The M Word

By Joanne Delaney

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Shot of a man comforting a distressed woman in a stairwellhttp://195.154.178.81/DATA/istock_collage/a4/shoots/785245.jpg

As sad as it is, infertility is still a taboo subject, and why? Because people just don’t want to hear that it’s a real thing!

It’s not as easy as having sex to get pregnant, for people like me suffering with infertility it’s a daily battle to prove yourself to yourself until finally after years of hoping and meds and lost cycles you finally see those two lines on a pregnancy test leading you in to a false sense of hope, only for that hope to be ripped away from you soon after, which takes me to Miscarriage.

Again this seems to be a hush hush scenario no one wants to face the fact that it’s still a baby, still a loss, still a huge gaping hole in your heart that in that specific moment in your life feels like it’s never ever going to fill.

As cliché Infertility can make or break a couple , not because it’s not working, but more because one or both parties feel like there failing the other and just cannot deal with the feelings surrounding it.

 

For the lucky few, treating infertility or getting pregnant is an option, IVF , IUI , Rounds of clomid or even egg and sperm donations are only a cash withdrawal away, but for others it’s not so easy and at over €6000 a round of IVF is just not affordable for most, I mean who has a spare €6000 to throw at something that may or may not work? I know I don’t, and were a working couple with a mortgage, decent jobs and we don’t socialise a huge amount.

What bothers me most, is that most other countries have medical options for IVF or discounted rates for couples trying to conceive yet Ireland does not – Why?

Why when they are allowing Abortion to be free and available on demand up to three months do they not have a procedure available to couples struggling to have that much wanted baby?

These are all questions the majority of the women struggling to conceive in Ireland want to know, yet no one is offering any assistance.

My Own personal story is one of heartbreak, happiness, joy and sadness beyond anything I’ve ever thought possible, and this is where I’ll start.

I have PCOS , I’m 34 years young, my husband is 38 years young and were a happy and healthy couple.

John and I met by complete fluke, I dialled a wrong number 18 years ago and since that day we never stopped talking, we met a month afterwards, a year later we moved in together, and in 2006 we got pregnant, we were not planning or trying or ready, but we were exited, this was short lived, two weeks later we lost our first baby.

In 2007 we bought our first home and decided we wanted to fill it up with as much love and laughter and family as possible and so our journey began.

After two years of trying naturally, with nothing happening, we figured we would see our doctor to see if there was anything they could do.

Unfortunately, our doctor wouldn’t do anything not couldn’t, but wouldn’t, he wouldn’t prescribe clomid or help in any way, but did refer me to his friend who was a fertility doctor, a man who charges €250 just to meet with us!!

But sure, we got the funds together, and went for the expensive consultation.

Firstly, my husband had to have his sample tested, all was fine his end.

The consultation lasted 15 mins, included a transvaginal ultrasound of my cervix, I was given three options ,  Clomid , UI and IVF ,  when I asked why I wasn’t getting pregnant I was told I have symptoms of PCOS even though I had no cysts on my ovaries I had other issues ( Hirsutisum, weight gain, irregular periods).

We opted for a round IVF, I had no viable eggs to transfer after retrieval, we then went for a round of clomid , it didn’t work, we subsequently tried 6 more rounds of clomid with a pregnyl ovulation induction again no success, we then scrapped up the extra funds for a round of IUI , nothing , and after 4 more rounds of IUI our funds ran out.

So what do we do now? Start saving again?

We looked at the possibility of borrowing the money to do another round of IVF, but we couldn’t justify borrowing money to pay for something that may or may not work, not that it wouldn’t be worth every penny if it worked, but taking the risk of having so much debt if it didn’t.. Again there is no financial help, and this hurt!

So we gave up, we decided what ever will be will be.

It was  in 2016, it’s the end of July and I’m not feeling myself, I didn’t take much notice of skipping a period as they weren’t regular anyway, but I thought I’d pick up a test just to rule out pregnancy before attending the doctor,  the complete shock and disbelief that after 10 years of trying for a baby we seen those two lines we’d been wishing for , 10 digital tests later we started to believe we would finally have the baby we were much longing for, we started picking names , telling family members walking around feeling like the happiest , luckiest most content people on the planet, on September 22nd 2016 the day before our wedding anniversary we had our 13 week scan, feeling the gel on my belly, and gripping my husband’s hand, we waited with anticipation to see that little jellybean on the screen,  after several silent moments, our nurse looked at me with tears in her eyes, and said the words we never thought we would hear, “I’m so sorry, your baby’s heart has stopped beating” , these words will stay with me forever, I remember howling like a banshee, sobbing to my husband begging her to tell me it was a mistake, they took us to another room ( a bit more private and away from expecting parents ) to meet with a doctor to discuss the next steps.

Everything was just so matter of fact, they have me a box of two tablets, one to be taken 24 hours later and the other 12 hours after that.

They did not prepare us for what happened once I took the tablets, I won’t go into it , but let’s just say it’s not an experience I would wish on my worst enemy.

Two days later we had our final scan to ensure everything had been removed, we were given the all clear and sent home.

There was no explanation of what happened, no tests done on me, nothing.

We were clueless as to why we had just lost or second baby, and none the wiser as to the next steps, yet again there was no support, nothing at all from the Irish health system, we were yet again alone.

So we decided enough was enough, it was time to focus on us, and stop focusing on getting pregnant , I focused more on my health I began swimming, eating healthier exercising etc..

2017 wasn’t good to us at all, in September we lost my wonderful Mother in Law the most amazing woman in the world, it broke our hearts, and in November we lost my grandfather the man who acted as a father figure my entire life, it was a tough year but having such a strong family made things a little easier as the days went by.

 

In March 2018 I began having sever pain under my chest and through my ribcage, so we went into the emergency room to see what was happing, it was gallstones and a lot of them so the ultrasound showed. I was brought back upstairs to chat to the doctors about the next steps on having my gallbladder removed,

The doctor came in and had a confused look on his face, he said “when was your last period” to which I responded I have PCOS there always irregular, he replied with and have you being trying to have a baby? Confused I replied yes, we have been trying over 10 years – he then laughed and said well your well and truly pregnant, your blood HCG Levels are quite high I would say your about 7 weeks gone my husband who was right beside me at the time almost fell off his chair to have a pregnancy confirmed via a pee stick is one thing, but via bloods so unexpectedly was mind-blowing, needless to say I didn’t bother with having the gallbladder removed , we left the hospital on a complete high!

All the while in the back of both our minds trying our best not to get our hopes too much.

At 7 weeks, we were a high risk pregnancy as we already lost our two angels so we were brought to the hospital that week the nurse started her transvaginal scan, and all we seen was a blob, the most beautiful sight in the world, she gave us a photo and smiled, she said it’s too early to see the heartbeat so not to worry, we were elated she said all looked fine and to come in again next week for another scan, we just couldn’t contain ourselves. We told close family members , it was a nice welcome from all the bad that came from the previous year, it was bitter sweet as the one person who would have been the happiest person in the world to hear this , had left this world , but I knew she would be smiling somewhere.

Week 8 scan came, and my heart was in my throat the nurse again began her scan , and she couldn’t find baby for a couple of seconds, and then we see it, that perfectly shaped little baby on the screen with a lot of white flickering , so much so that the nurse was looking for a second  baby, but there was only one, we could not believe we were seeing our much wanted much loved little baby’s heartbeat on the screen, words cannot describe how much love we had for this baby already, and walking out grinning like a Cheshire cat holding my folder it was the best experience ever.

On March 19th at 12 weeks pregnant I began experiencing a lot of cramping, we were in the middle of a snow storm so I called the maternity hospital and they said as long as I’m not bleeding there is no major cause for concern, but my instincts told me other otherwise, my husband brought me to the maternity hospital to be seen.

We waited over an hour and then I was called in to a tiny room to be told that there scanners were not as good as the early pregnancy clinic but they would in their own words “ Give it a go” it took the nurse 15 mins to tell me she couldn’t find the baby, I told her I would empty my bladder lake last time and she could try again, and once I done that a transvaginal scan showed my beautiful baby on the screen, the room was silent, an so was the screen , there was no flicker.. I seen my baby but there was no flicker, this couldn’t be happening again, I asked the nurse was there a heartbeat, I was already anticipating what she would say..  And low and behold those words came out, the ones I’ve dreaded and ones I heard 18 months previous … I’m so sorry, your baby has no heartbeat.

I just fell silent, no crying , just numb, we were told that we had to go bag to reconfirm baby had passed, and  because the early pregnancy clinic was so busy, we had to wait for two days to get an appointment, all the while knowing my baby still inside me was no longer alive.

We arrived at the clinic two days later, and had the inevitable confirmed, we had lost our third little angel.

We met with the doctor soon after who once again talked us through our options, but one thing was for sure, we needed some answers.

On March 23rd 2018 at 7ami was taken in for an ERPC.

We waited 6 weeks for some answers only to be told that yet again we wouldn’t have any!

There was nothing found, not a single abnormality, no NK cells , nothing.

Again we were left with no reason, how can we have lost all three of our babies for no reason?

And again, there was no support, there was no help we were distraught.

It’s been 6 months since then, and were still at a loss as to what to do next?

We can’t go through another loss, I can’t bear the pain, yet we desperately want a baby to complete our little family.

So what’s next in our journey…?

We’re going to continue to try naturally, we have an Ava fertility bracelet so hopefully that may help us out a bit.

The rest of our story is yet to be written……

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