Getting off the Rollercoaster - Going for Adoption

Friday, July 28, 2006

The mountains call

Four-drug strategy reduces repeat miscarriages

Not sure if above link will work - some day I will HAVE to make the time to figure out all this HTML stuff, but it won't be for a couple of weeks - we are off to do the Hohen Weg (Glacier Route) of the Stubai mountains near Innsbruck in Austria.

See you in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Waffling on about adoption already . . .

First I have to say:

What lovely comments you lovely people leave for me. Thank you so much for your support. I really, really appreciate it.

Things ARE improving, and I am really trying to be positive.

In response to my email to the adoption agency I had an email asking me to call. I did, and spoke to a woman who had a bit of a grating voice, and I thought I would hate her but who was actually really kind, realistic and sensible.

In brief she asked me some of the normal stuff – where I lived, worked, whether and how long married etc and, of course, why was I considering adoption. When I said (a little gruffly) that I had had 6 miscarriages she was immediately very kind, but on discovering that the last one was this month, suggested it may be a bit soon for me to be embarking on this process.

Well, even I have to admit she does have a point. On the other hand, it’s not as though we waited until after the 6th miscarriage to ever consider adoption. It has been there as a possible option for a long time.

We talked about that a bit.

How the effect of the miscarriages is cumulative, and it really does take time for you to accept that it is looking less and less likely that I will ever “carry to term.” (“Carry to term” is very euphemistic – strange that I feel the need for a euphemistic term to deal with something so joyful. I guess it has fewer and fewer joyful connotations for me.) Eventually, almost imperceptibly I have reached that point.

Anyway, I said that at the age of 43 I was worried that failing to get started on with the process would just mean that I would be too old for ‘them’ to consider me.

She could appreciate my concerns. Obviously if I was thinking of a newborn* well, that might be (pause for me to fill the space). . . but she couldn’t see why at my age a toddler would be a problem.

What can I say? To be honest I was absolutely over the moon when she said this – I really don’t know how realistic it is to hope for a toddler – or even what she means by toddler, but the thought of having a young child – OMG – I really am filling up again. . . and yes, yes, I know I am totally jumping the gun here, there are hundreds of hurdles yet, but let a girl (OK, old woman) dream for a moment!!

Anyway, the point she was trying to make was that I needed to get over the grieving process first, and she is so right. I know this is true.

But is it wrong of me to use the hope of adoption as a way of getting over the grief? So much of the grief is about never being able to have a child. Not necessarily my biological child, but a child to love and nurture and support and watch grow until it is a grown up. The whole thing. I could write all that stuff down, but how can I list all the things I want to do with my child(ren)?

(By the way for the best post ever on this, read this - - Jill, you blew me away with how fantastically you expressed all this. I can't say how grateful I am.)

I think I continued (and would continue still) to miscarry over and over, even when the doctors are saying it’s my age, my eggs are cooked, my uterus mashes embryos . . . I continue because the ONLY way to get over all this grief is by finally having the baby. Somehow. And adoption is certainly one way to do that.

Ironically, of course, oh-so-long ago, when I was in my 20’s, with so many unwanted children in the world, and the human population (I considered) out of control, I used to be one of those unbearable people who thought that adoption was the only defensible way to have children.

Oh how the sins of the past come home to roost. Or something like that.

You have to laugh, really.

*Lots unsaid here, and for the benefit of non-UK readers, it is as good as impossible to adopt babies in this country. Certainly at my age. Most of the children up for adoption are basically children that have been taken into the state’s care system because they are deemed ‘at risk’ – from abuse and/or neglect. It is actually heartbreaking. But this does mean that babies are very rare, as even the most sad case rarely has her children taken into care at birth. I can hardly write this, it is all so incredibly tragic, both for the children and their mothers. It almost seems like schadenfreude to be getting excited about adoption under such circumstances.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Stop the world

Fabulous, this just gets better.

Still spotting, but I really believe this will stop soon. After all, I’m only just into my 4th week – I thought it was longer. Seems like much longer.

But at least I don’t have colitis. My brother had it, and had to have his whole colon removed, years ago. When I had intense, screaming pains in my lower abdomen on Saturday, I thought that was what it might be.

So I went to my GP today.

No, it’s too low to be my colon – almost certainly a ‘low level pelvic infection’. (Low level? What the hell does high level feel like?) He prescribed antibiotics and so much ibuprofen I probably won’t feel a thing for weeks. So much for acupuncture and herbs, I suppose. Should I sack the acupuncturist?

Always assuming the doctor is right, of course, and it’s not my colon.

As a little PS, following emotional outburst to the GP about how MISERABLE I am after all these miscarriages, he said “don’t come back and see me until you have spoken to social services about adoption. Don’t leave it any longer, or your age may prevent you even adopting”.

My poor GP has a box of tissues on his desk and I got through 2 or 3 in the space of about 10 minutes. Once I start . . .

Honestly, I sometimes think that if there was nothing to stop me I would cry for hours and hours. And then some.

Please make it all stop. I really want it all to stop now.

If only so I don’t write any more miserable posts. I am so fed up with myself.

I know if I were reading this by someone else I would tell her to try and be kind to herself, to do nice things . . . but I am finding it all so hard. I feel like my confidence has all just leaked away over the months.

I find it hard to socialise, to go to work. To call anyone is next to impossible.

I wrote most of this post yesterday, but then blogger-dot-com was down, so I couldn’t post it. But I did email the county adoption services, just asking them to send more info.

I could definitely love an adopted child. No question about that. And I am beginning to really like the idea – even if the child is a bit older. But how am I ever going to convince the agencies that I would be a worthy mother, when there seems to be so much against me, I am so old, and inside I am so, so fallible? And so, so sad?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Pins and herbs

I have just read a post by Beagle (who has a nearly identical-looking blog to mine – quite disconcerting!)
She talks about her dissatisfaction with her acupuncturist, and I was just wondering if anyone else had any good TCM stories?
I feel like a mug, because after (well, during) m/c #6 I finally walked into the little Chinese ‘Ever Well’ centre in the little town where I work. I booked a ‘free’ consultation, which I attended last Friday. I nearly blogged about it in anger on my return . . . this is why:

I arrived for my appointment to find the receptionist putting out herb concoctions onto paper plates. I was asked to fill in a VERY brief form, mostly asking for address, phone numbers, daytime phone number, evening phone number, etc etc with a gap about this big [_________] to explain what the ‘problem’ was. I filled the space with ‘recurring miscarriage’ but due to lack of space then had to fill in the dates of each one in the margin of the form.
I duly passed my form to the receptionist, who passed it to the doctor who had disappeared out the back somewhere.

A couple of minutes later the two reappeared to ask me to clarify. What did ‘recurring’ mean? Did I mean that I had had a miscarriage on each of the 6 dates? Did ‘July 06’ mean now? Well, yes.
Unfortunately neither of them speaks English very well, though the receptionist ‘translates’ for the doctor continually. So we had some confusion.

The doctor made sympathetic noises about the miscarriages. I think she thought I was totally weird, as I was completely unemotional. Completely. Even I thought I was weird.

She checked my pulse, on both wrists (which I thought a bit odd, but Beagle says this is basic stuff, so I am glad now) and she looked at my tongue.

She then pronounced her verdict.
I need stronger Qi. I must not prognate (I did warn you her English is not too good) for at least 3 months, in fact until she says I am ready. When I do prognate, I MUST NOT WORK. I MUST NOT DO ANYTHING. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. ONLY IF I AGREE TO THIS WILL SHE AGREE TO HELP ME. (Muggins here nods. Muggins agrees to anything really, if she can have the baby.)

Pause for an aside for practical thinking people who have to work: Bearing in mind that once I know I am pregnant, if I get HCG tests in weeks 5 and 6 which are already agreed to, it would be unlikely that I would actually need to take more than 2 weeks off work in practice. Of course, if it turned out that this bonkers Chinese woman can fix me, I would gladly take a leave of absence. But lets not worry about that at the moment.

Then . . . acupuncture session and it seems the herbs (you remember - the ones they were preparing as I arrived) were especially for ME (they are clearly psychic) and I also need to take 2 lots of different pills (round black ones) – 8 of them 3 times a day. As I leave, the total cost of this ‘free’ consultation has been . . . £104. OMG.

Am I stupid, or is this stuff worth it? Your opinions and experiences much appreciated!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A history lesson - How everything has a reason.

Why I have no baby (maybe) and I may take this post down. It scares me a little.

If everything happens for a reason, maybe this will explain.

My birthday, as we know, is in July, so I was just 16 when I went into the 6th form of school and, driven by a strong desire to travel, even live abroad, I chose to study languages.

I chose to take 4 ‘A’ levels (the exams you take to get into University, among other things) – in English, French, German and Art (Spanish followed much later, and really is another story entirely).

It was therefore inevitable that I had quite a bit of contact with D, the “native speaker” German Language Assistant, whose brief was to give German conversation lessons to students of German throughout the school.

He was 21. An intense, highly intelligent, slightly depressive, singing, guitar-playing German with perfect English. We used to walk together in the countryside and talk and talk and talk. In English. To be honest, I didn’t find him wildly attractive – at the time I had boyfriends, rather wild boys with teenage angst and teenage hormones.

It took me a long time to fall in love with D. Nearly a year. And longer still before we slept together for the first time. We spent some of the summer of the year between my lower and upper sixth year together in Germany. He wrote songs for me. He was a poet, a soul mate, my twin. I looked up to him, admired him. I couldn’t bear to be away from him. He adored me. Our love was perfect.

He was only contracted to work at my school for a year, so the following year, as I studied for A levels, he and I wrote letters of ideal, untouchable love. The idealism of John and Yoko’s perfect love mirrored our feelings for each other. That December John was shot dead. D heard it from me as I wailed hysterically down the school corridors while he was on a visit. Ever the drama queen. Still only 17.

The following summer I was visiting D in Germany when my A level results came out. I telephoned my parents from a service station on the Autobahn outside Munich, and had them open the envelope.

Ironically, and to everyone’s surprise but my own, I had almost failed German. My University place was no longer secure.

With no university place, D asked me to stay with him, get a job, a house, get married, have kids.
I had just turned 18.
I was spinning.
He didn’t press me.

My father phoned, again and again, and in my own teenage hormonal angst-ridden state I told him I may stay and marry D. Frantically he made more calls on my behalf to Unis. A few days passed before he phoned to say I had had 2 offers. One of them even allowed me to carry on studying German.

Now what was I to do?

D continued not to press me. It was my decision, and I had to be the one to make it.

(Many years later I asked him why, when he had wanted it so much, had he not pressed me to stay? I told him that I had understood from his actions that he did not mind too much either way. Tragically I was wrong – he had just wanted to be quite sure that I “followed my own way”.

It was a heavy responsibility but I knew I had always wanted to go to university, though in another odd twist, largely because I wanted to study languages and spend a year of my course abroad.

So I went, firm in the belief that D and I would continue. Completely convinced that ours was an ideal, perfect love; nothing could ever taint or destroy it.

I was so naïve, so wrong. I was cruel and thoughtless and hurtful, I really cannot write about the details, but on his 24th birthday that very November, D and I had a heart-breaking scene from which we could never recover. It took me a long time to realise. I really was very naïve.

D returned to Germany and the following Easter I visited him. The tables were turned on me; I finally understood how much I had hurt him.

It was over, but we didn’t leave each other. We still valued how close we had been. No-one else could ever compare.

But, heartbroken that I would never be the mother of his children, the one thing he had dreamed, D made the decision to have a vasectomy. The medical profession tried hard to dissuade him – he was in his early 20’s, how could he make a decision like this – but he went ahead anyway.

How did I cope with that? With the blame?

I thought of it as a mini-suicide, and explained it as his way of destroying a part of himself to keep himself sane. Suicide, it seems, was a part of his make-up. His sister had killed herself when he was just 16. Many years later, suffering from mental health problems, his brother was killed when he jumped out of a train window. A panic reaction when he realised he was on the wrong train and the guards were checking tickets.

So maybe a vasectomy at 25 was not the worst that might have happened to D.

A small death that saved him from going all the way.

I know I sound heartless, and it isn’t meant like that. Not at all. There was a lot of pain to get through. For D, I think I was in some ways just more pain in his life.

Our relationship went through many changes over the years. We remained very, very close for a long time. D had a heart attack, just 5 or 6 years ago and we rowed bitterly over his smoking. He refused to acknowledge it was bad for his heart, or had anything to do with the heart-attack. The smoking row happened over the weekend he got married, and turned things very sour between us.

He got married 3 days after 9/11 to a woman he had lived with for at least 16 years. . Apparently she never wanted children. But I know he did.

And after a long and I have to admit, bitter silence, we have exchanged text messages recently. I wanted to know that he was OK – not dead of another heart attack. He is, apparently, fully recovered and playing badminton regularly.

On a very sad day I texted him the news of my 6 miscarriages, and received from him a very kind text in return:

“Oh Viv, I can only try and figure what you two had and have to go through with that, I am sorry. I wish you strength. I think of you.”

I didn’t expect him to be so kind after all the bitterness. Whatever we did in the past, however in love we once were, it all did happen for a reason – he and I would have destroyed each other. He was simply far too intense, far too prone to misery and depression, even anger. I could not have withstood that.

What I finally found was support and love of a stronger and healthier kind with R. I never feel in danger with R.

But still, a little bit of me really believes that I have no right to have babies, when I could have done with D, and I chose not to . . . and he chose never to have them, if not with me.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

43 or . . . “it’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to”

I was trying not to be depressed – after all it’s just another day, really, and I am only a day older than I was yesterday. And as I always so cheerily say to people who grumble about being old (usually they are in their 20’s) ‘in 10 years time you will be amazed you were ever this young’. Yep, when I am 53 I will be amazed I was ever this young, but I am horrified to be just 10 years away from 53. OMG. Really, what happened?

So I drove to work trying to be upbeat (yes, today I am in the office – in a paranoid moment I thought they would think I was skiving if I chose to work from home on my birthday) – anyway, as I drove to work they played Bob Dylan ‘ She belongs to me’ on the radio, and I burst into tears. - here are the lyrics, in case you want them. “She never stumbles, she’s got no place to fall”. Oh dear, Bob Dylan is truly the greatest songwriter.

But life goes on. I stumble along.

Yesterday was my Canadian SIL’s 40th birthday and the four of us went out to dinner. Fabulous food, and a really enjoyable evening – very rare for R and his brother to go out together, but we all had such a good time I think we will do it again. My SIL has a 7-year-old son who is ‘in the autistic spectrum’ – so hard work, but they adore him. In slightly drunken state at the end of the evening when she and I were alone, she told me they have been trying to get pregnant again for 4 years. No reason diagnosed for the lack of success – tubes were thought blocked, then told they are just ‘quite convoluted’ which sounds a bit strange to me. They suggested she had maybe had some kind of infection, and she clearly thinks they were insinuating that she had caught something from someone other than her husband. She started (very unnecessarily) assuring me that this simply couldn’t be the case. It also turns out that she sees the same consultant (Dr Nice) as me! How funny – I wonder if he has made the connection! The Hopeless Infertile Family. I told her about the 6th miscarriage. It was a relief to tell her. She was very nice about it and didn’t say anything stupid at all.

So that was all good really.

Then there was The Hospital Appointment yesterday.
What a shambles.
First, as I was in SUCH a state last Weds, I didn’t take in the date for the new appointment – it just got written on the card. It actually said 3 July, but it looked JUST LIKE 5 July – so clever me turned up on the wrong day. I was prepared to go away, but the receptionist was really rude and asked me to wait and the waiting area was rammed full of women with enormous bumps and I went to sit down, and ended up crying again. It took lots of very sympathetic nurses to track down Dr Nice – in Theatre, but said he would see me anyway when he came out. Nearly 2 hours later I got my meeting.

So here in summary:

hCG now at 27.

  • No point doing D&C, as would be v unlikely to be able to get enough tissue for analysis and unless bleeding is prolonged. . . I don’t think it will be this time, to be honest. I can put up with 10 days or 2 weeks or so. As long as it is over before I go on holiday.
  • IVF – I asked about whether it would be worth my while considering IVF with PGD – he thinks not, as is really only useful if we knew that my miscarriages are due to a particular genetic or chromosomal problem and it is not really possible to just screen for ‘normal’ embryos. No, of course, that made sense.
  • MTHFR – I was a bit disconcerted to find he didn’t seem to know what I was talking about with this one. Then he seemed to catch on, and we discussed getting high dose folic acid – he said that he would prescribe me this if I wanted it anyway, without any tests, as he was happy it wouldn’t do me any harm.
  • He is very sceptical about my Harley Street doctor’s 80% claim. So am I really – I never had the results from his clinic to back it up. He definitely thinks I should NOT take any higher a dose of steroids than I have been prescribed so far.
  • Vitamins – possibly selenium may help. Can’t harm, so take them too.
  • Acupuncture (I wanted his view on this) – definitely helps some people with some complaints, so may be worth trying – highly unlikely to do any harm and certainly safer to try this than do more steroids. (He isn’t keen on steroids! I don’t blame him, but I really had to try, and will almost certainly give it one more go.)

    In essence we are no closer to finding a reason or a cure for my RPL than we were 2 years ago, or whenever the hell I started seeing the quacks. He clearly doesn't think there is any intervention which will work, but understands my need to 'leave no stone unturned'. When I finally give up, I need to believe I tried everything.

    Where does this leave me?

    More than three years older than when I started trying for a baby, and finally facing – or at least beginning to think - the unthinkable.

    It could be never.

    So, what shall I have for birthday tea?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

If they knew, they wouldn't, would they?

First – to “my American readers” – Happy Independence Day. Judging by the standard of the British performances in the World Cup and at Wimbledon I think you guys did the right thing! Just kidding, but have a good holiday.

For a couple of days I have been “working from home”. It is something I am able to do very occasionally, when I am not involved in day-to-day meetings and have a lot of writing to do, it is just more efficient. At present I have a lot of writing to do, and it has suited me very well being at home. I am OK, but not very stable. It is just that things will set me off quite easily. And I don’t want all that pity and, as I have said, I worry that people will think I am stupid for continuing to put myself through this instead of accepting that at 42 I am past having kids. Get over it.

I think not telling my work colleagues is a kind of self-protection. Last year I went through the scenario where I did tell them what had happened. I had nearly 2 weeks off after my 4th m/c last July/August. They sent me a big bunch of flowers. But, though after 2 weeks I was well enough to come back to work, (actually I felt a bit of a fraud) I was by no means ‘over it’.

Then I did it all over again in October (# 5). That time only my closest colleague and my manager knew, though it would have been very easy for anyone to guess - I was off at medical appointments so often. It was nearly 2 months after that, just after Christmas that everything really kicked off . . . lots of “complaints” apparently from the team about my work. It was so awful. I felt so miserable that they could be so harsh, and the more so because they KNEW what had happened. I think other people just assume you do get over it. Short memory syndrome.

So this time I am being as completely brave as I can be. I am here in work, and I think I am doing OK.

But then this:

I got married in October 2004. 2 weeks before me, a close colleague (J) also married, and 2 weeks after me yet another colleague (D) got married. A real rash of weddings in our company that October! J had been in her relationship for about 8 years, and at her wedding was already 4 – 5 months pregnant. Her little boy is lovely, though I don’t see much of him. J is a good friend to me, and knows about the m/c’s. In fact, though at the time she didn’t know, she was with me for the first one, as we were together on a work trip to the States. Then today, I was in the shared kitchen by my office making some tea, and D walks in, smiles broadly at me, and says ‘have you heard the news’, cupping her tummy significantly.

Brave brave brave. It’s not her fault. She doesn’t know. It did help that I had actually guessed a couple of weeks ago. So I told her I had guessed, and we laughed about it. Clever me, I can laugh with a newly pregnant woman.

Her baby is due on Christmas day. I think I managed all the right faces, all the right noises.

But all I am thinking is – this leaves only me, and I have a big thick pad between my legs. And I am still feeling sorry for myself.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Very wrong world. What's going on?

I got a hell of a shock this morning – I hadn’t checked on Jill for 2 or 3 days, and just popped over to find out that she has miscarried too. Number 6 too. Poor Jill, this is just so wrong. I was completely convinced hers would be OK.

So now Nikole and Jill follow Thalia and Pamplemousse and I really do feel a bit overwhelmed by the injustice of it all.

And last night I started spotting. I am just so glad I was expecting it, instead of it coming as a horrible shock like before.

This time I don’t have to rush around thinking ‘is it or isn’t it?’. I know this is a miscarriage. Not a bit of 'normal' bleeding in pregnancy' which lots of (other) women have.

This time there is no wondering if it it was me. If it was something I did in the last couple of days, because I already know my HCG was already shot to pieces last weekend. And I hadn't done anything.

For once I am waiting to bleed instead of dreading seeing spotting.

It does give me more questions about just how early I am really losing these pregnancies, though. When, on other occasions I didn’t start to really bleed until 8 weeks, I just thought that meant I had miscarried at 8 weeks, but now it looks like it may well have been over long before that.

I don’t really know if this means much.