Sunday, 29 June 2014

Is it you?

I think it's entirely understandable right now that I'm a bit of a mess as Tuesday slides closer into view. So I'm not going to say much other than two bits. It's my cousin's wedding today and yesterday was spent searching Westfield for something to wear. I had to go anyway as one of my kids smashed my phone screen by accident the previous day (I was going to go on Friday but was then held up at school with a child protection case- always a pleasure to spend my evening chatting to the emergency services! Doesn't matter how many times you speak to the police and confirm whether you believe it to be a neglect case or not- there is a huge amount of fear that you might have got it wrong.)

Anyway, after my tutoring jobs yesterday, I headed off to Stratford to see what I could find. It wasn't really a very good day- I spent most of it either crying or worrying. I was even tempted again to get a private scan done but as my mum mentioned in the evening when I saw her, even with a scan every other week for her pregnancy with my brother, it wasn't enough. There was also a massive fear that I wasn't going to fit into anything-which was sort of true. The maternity stuff swamped me and normal stuff was all skewiff with my porn star boobs. I was brave, I went into Mamas and Papas and tried stuff on and I tried New Look's Maternity range too. It was a bit of a blow out as I ended up buying three dresses that were a bit shit and not really suitable for a wedding. At this point, I was almost sobbing as nothing was right and what if these maternity dresses were a total waste of money with the outcome of the dating scan? I then popped into Monsoon with the hope of buying a cardi to throw over the top of the dreadful dresses when I found something pretty special. A lovely navy shift dress with pearls and diamante around a high neckline before dropping to a V on the back. I tried it on and the sales girl walked towards me grinning, saying, "I think you need the next size down!" So I tried on the smaller size and it was perfect. As I walked out of the changing room, Paloma Faith's version of  "Never Tear us Apart" came on- whilst we danced to the INXS version, it was Paul's and my first dance. It was like a little sun ray bursting out through the cloud. I felt a little happier and with the help of the wonderful girls at Monsoons and Accessorize found hair grips and a small bag. This is now my wedding outfit for the summer! WEDDINGS DONE!!!

I then got my phone back fully repaired and heard from my mum about picking Hattie up. On the way back, I met up with my mum and we drove back to my house to pick up her beast. As we drove back, over the road from my house there is a massive football field and with the strange weather all day, there was the biggest rainbow stretching up into the sky. Another beautiful happy sign!

This morning, the sun is high and bright. I reckon my Grandad sorted that one out like he did for my wedding!

Anyway, there's one more thing I need to do before I have my scan.

Dear Blob,

You haven't got the greatest name right now but the first time I saw you on the screen when you had been growing for 6weeks and 5 days in my tummy, you looked like nothing more than a blob. There's a bigger blob where your head is but generally a blob. I think I am also a little frightened to call you a baby because over the past almost 12 weeks, I've become quite attached to you (or rather you've become quite attached to me!) and it could make it even harder to let you go if the news isn't good on Tuesday.

When I saw you again at 9 weeks 1 day, your heart was still beating nice and strong. You'd also grown to look slightly less blob like (but yes, you still looked like a blob!) It was so frightening going to the scan but you behaved yourself for Daddy and showed him your incredible little flickering light where your heart was beating away. I'll let you into a secret- the ultrasound technician showed us where your arms and legs were growing but I couldn't make them out- I think I was too fixated on the fact your heart was still beating.

You've managed to do so much more already. You let Mummy meet the midwife and get her scary maternity notes pack.

I'm going to be calling in favours with every deity this week that you are still growing beautifully and are starting to look less like a blob and become more of a baby.

It'd be worth it. You have a wonderful Daddy- he's the most wonderful man. You'd be silly not to make it to nine months to come and meet him. He has a pretty good taste in music but first and foremost, he already adores you. He has been your cheerleader from the start, saying that you are our baby. The one that we will get to meet and watch grow up into- he thinks, a mini me! Yes, he thinks you're a girl. I'm a bit more focussed on getting you through the next few months rather than worrying about whether you're a boy or girl. Lots of other people think you're a girl too. Guess we'll see!

Anyway, I love you Blob. I love you loads. I promise to dial down the anxiety from Tuesday if you can just show me that you're doing ok, alright?

We both love you and thank you for making it this far.

Mummy xxx

Sunday, 15 June 2014

How do you?

So you all know now that I am currently a chick incubator, hoping like mad that things are still working. The thing is, THIS IS REALLY HARD. I know, right now you want to punch me, you want to shake me by my shoulders and say, "You're frigging 9 weeks pregnant! That is something in itself to be grateful for! As far as you know, the baby still has a heartbeat!" This is where infertility and repeat pregnancy loss splits. Just before I got this positive, I was in a seriously weird place. A place where although I hated the big fat negatives, I also dreaded the positives. In fact, I dreaded the positives even more. As you can see in my previous post, my response to this positive wasn't exactly that of sheer joy and happiness. "OH SHIT" is not a normal response from someone who is desperate for a baby.

I guess it's the years (can't believe it has actually been years- just feels like a lot of numbness) of  positive pregnancy tests meaning nothing more than there is/was HCG in my body at the time of the test. The possibility of a baby was there but my genes screwed it up. I remember reading the information on what my possible pregnancies would come out as at 16 after my first meeting with the genetic counsellor:

  • Ones where it would be unicorns shitting rainbows (read as my genes have not been passed on therefore no genetic wonkiness and no issues when they go to have babies).
  • Wonkettes like me- a balanced translocation.
  • Trisomies that could be born (babies with pretty bad disabilities and chances of early childhood death)
  • Trisomies that couldn't be born (my miscarriages)
  • Then the truly weird and wonderful where this is never born but there are still possibilities of creating a pregnancies. I want to call them Quadsomies as that would make sense!
The genetics is now what's keeping me awake at night. I rang the Fetal Medicine Centre yesterday to book in my Harmony test (this is a blood test that they're hoping will replace CVS and Amnio as it carries 0% chance of miscarriage). I gave the receptionist all my details and then asked the dreaded question... Will my wonky genes cause issues with the test. Guess what the answer was...! "I'm terribly sorry, Mrs Lawson, but due to your balanced translocation falling on one of the major trisomies that we test for, you will not be able to take the test as it is likely to come back with a failed result and therefore it would be better to start with something like CVS or Amnio."

FOR FUCK'S SAKE!!!!!!!!!

So I then rang Guys as I had a double reason to ring- to postpone my appointment and to ask them WHAT THE FUCK DO I DO NOW? They had said at the genetic counselling appointment when I was pregnant with number 4, that if I required genetic testing, that they would be happy to help so I asked and they are going to ring me back to offer some support. It was scary postponing my PGD appointment. After so much fear to book it, it is utterly terrifying to have to put a timer on it. Whether this pregnancy works or not, I will need a break before going forward with the treatment.

I have my booking appointment next week with the midwife and my dating scan on the 1st of July. Right now, they feel a million miles off even with the heartbeat that P and I saw on Thursday. I am still waiting for someone to pop up and say, "Hahaha! Only joking!" The genetic testing could be the next stumbling block. I realise that a lot of people probably think I'm being hugely ungrateful for being pregnant but being pregnant was never the issue.

Can I start to think about NCT classes? Can I start to look at maternity clothes? Should I be saving money for maternity leave? Actually, the real question is: do I dare? There is a slight palpable excitement in the air...

Hope is such a dangerous thing.

Friday, 13 June 2014

How soon is now?

Yes, I did it. One of the best songs to ever have a question title but I don't think it could have a more apt title. I was saving it for an epic post and whilst I don't think it is epic, it should be a good one.

The weekend before last, I got the appointment date and time from Guys in regards to the PGD. I mean, how damn quick did that come through? Super double fast quick time! I was a little take aback about the quick turn around time as I was enjoying the responsibility being out of my hands. It was a warm, sunny, happy place where there were bluebirds dancing around my shoulders. As soon as the envelope appeared, there was an intense feeling of holy fuck! We're really doing this!

Although like every good story, something may bugger things up.

I'm pregnant.

So the week before I went off to Canada, I was a little late so I did a test. It came back with a total and utter blank bit where the possible positive should have been. Not even an evaporation line. Shrugged my shouders- no biggie! I'm off to dance like a loon at my soul sister's wedding! It was meant to be my last hoorah before going clean for the PGD, so yes, I drank and I smoked. The actual day of the wedding, I felt a bit odd. My boobs felt like they would explode and I felt like I wanted to murder someone. I just put it down to feeling a bit PMSy and prayed that I wouldn't get my period for that bloody flight home.

Anyway, after the fun that was 72hours in Canada, my period still didn't arrive when I was back in England so on the Thursday, I did a test in the loos at school and literally as soon as I peed on it, BOOM! Pregnant.

Poor P then got a message saying- "OH SHIT" along with a picture of the test. He replied in typical P fashion with "Every man's dream- a text saying 'oh shit' with a picture of a positive pregnancy test!" We were both apprehensive. You can't not be after so many losses! P, however, scared me. He said that he really felt that this was it. This would be our baby. *CUE BIG FREAK OUT* People have said that to me before about previous pregnancies. How could he be so confident about something neither of us have any idea about?

I then waited a week and a bit to speak to my GP about going to EPU- I would be around 7 weeks then and if there was going to be a heartbeat, there would be one by then. My GP instantly said yes to me going for a scan but said she would hold off on signing me up for antenatal care until after the result of the scan. I waited til Friday and went with Kat who was utterly thrilled that she would see my insides...(bloody doctors!) I was so scared. Back where things had ended before. I was also having very few symptoms which made me feel like things were over. I mean, after 5 losses, things couldn't begin to go right naturally? I was ready for PGD not a natural pregnancy. The receptionist and nurses who sadly all knew me, were lovely as usual- all wishing this would be it for me. I was called through to speak to Jo (yes, I know her first name...), the nurse consultant and I thought it was just going to be another chat so I said to Kat that I'd be fine going by myself and yet it was the scan time- WHEN I NEEDED HER MOST! By the time the door closed, I was shaking too much to ask to have her come in with me so I had to brave it alone. Jo kept the screen towards herself until she was certain whilst I was trying to control the panic attack that was brewing.

There was a heartbeat.

I wept and had to keep wiping the tears away to be able to see what was being pointed out to me on the ultrasound. There was the tiny little pulsating light that was flickering away so strongly. Something I had never seen before. All those scans that yielded nothing but the dreaded week wait to see if there would be some more growth where of course, there would be none. There it was. That heartbeat that held so much hope.

I floated out of the EPU in shock. Kat was hugging me, utterly delighted. I rang Paul and the frst words out of my mouth were..."There was a heartbeat!" It was a little like how I felt on my wedding day- like I was in a bubble, floating around. Not quite in my own body! I rang my mum who was in tears. I rang my nan who giggled delightedly. It just didn't feel very real. A heartbeat? So much hope comes with a heartbeat. My mum only ever saw two heartbeats- mine and my brother's.

So I spoke to a couple of people at work to explain about my losses and the fact I might just need to do a runner if things went Pete Tong. They were great and really understanding. So, I then carried on as normal. Teaching, tutoring- all the normal shit whilst also wiping so much when I went to the loo that I was making myself sore! I even plucked up the courage to get some new bras and book my antenatal care.

Everything was fine until this week. On Monday, as I guessed, we got the OFSTED call! They came for the Tuesday and Wednesday. I was watched on the Tuesday twice and felt like I was home free from the buggers! To be honest, for the first time in my life, I think it was the first true time of not giving a flying fuck about the outcome. There were bigger things than how the school would do. Anyway, things were fine until early Wednesday morning. At 3am, I woke up and found that I was bleeding. More spotting than bleeding but you can imagine my fear. It was all over in my head. It was a mid brown blood so not the bright red, there were no bad pains which was going in baby's favour. I laid on the bed sobbing, trying to talk to my tummy. I think I told it to not be a dick and start messing around now! Apologies baby, I was terrified. Paul came to bed at around 4ish and I told him what happened. He of course told me to not panic and that I should just see how the day would unfold. Easier said than done!

I went to work as we still had OFSTED in but I spoke to my deputy head to explain that I might need to run ( I had PPA at 12 so I knew I could escape early if I needed). She disagreed and said she didn't want me in work and said she wanted me home and resting as soon as possible so she would book me a taxi back to South London- she also refused to listen to my protests that it wasn't much and I would only leave if things got worse. She said she would explain to the head without telling her but I felt like I had to be honest with her. I told her and the head said that she'd already worked it out! She also said that there were things bigger than OFSTED and this was one of them. So I went home and booked the GP in the back of the taxi. My taxi driver was wonderful. He was a Somali gentleman who chatted all the way back and said that when he visited the mosque that afternoon, he would pray for me and my unborn baby! Such a kind man who completely distracted me all the way back to Kidbrooke. When I got home, I flopped on the sofa with Max trying to put everything out of my mind. The Dr reckoned that it was left over blood from where the baby had implanted and that whilst it was nothing to worry about, that a trip to EPU would be a good idea.

So Paul took yesterday off (which turned out to be a great move as it was the first day of the England vs Sri Lanka cricket at Lords) and we got up early to hit EPU as soon as possible to get the feeling of death row out of our bodies. We arrived so early that we were the first to be seen. I spoke to Jo and explained what was going on- she had everything crossed that our worst nightmare wasn't about to come true again. We then went in for a scan in the same room that we found out our baby last year hadn't grown. The technician didn't say anything for about half a minute (oh and by the way, I got to progress from dildocam to abdominal!)- during which time both Paul and I were holding our breath. Then she turned to us and said, "There's baby's head, baby's back and legs. If you look here, you can see the heartbeat."

Paul and I just beamed at each other. He was right. Baby is still alive and kicking. When we went to have a chat with Jo, as soon as Paul shut the door, she gave me the biggest hug! Baby had also caught up in length to measuring 9weeks 1 day as of yesterday. To begin with it was a little short but seems to have caught up rapidly in the past 12 days.

So yes. Still pregnant. Not only pregnant but pregnant with a date for meeting the midwife next week and a baby with a heartbeat in my tummy. I also have a maternity bra that I dared to try on today. In a minute, I'm going to book my Harmony test with the Fetal Medicine Centre which will check for any weird trisomies without the risk of miscarriage unlike CVS or Amniocentesis.


Saturday, 26 April 2014

Isn't it time?

So I'm not allowed to talk about the epic thing that happened last night but I guess that's only fair as it didn't just involve me. (I asked the other person about 10 times if they were sure they didn't want me to talk about it and even though they were dozing, saying no 10 times usually means no doesn't it...? Grrrrrrr!)

Instead, I am going to take you on a journey with me! Every Saturday morning, I tutor a couple of kids- this Saturday morning was no different other than I knew I had a job to do. So as I left home this morning to catch the bus, I went to the dreaded coffee table, I lifted up the PGD booklet and fished out the two forms and I put them into my purple satchel:

This is me putting it into my bag!

Next, I made a funny sound that was a bit like, "Nerghplff!" and I left the house, put my headphones on and listened to M.I.A's Bad Girls which is slowly becoming my anthem. I remember it being used on The Mindy Project when Mindy gets her shit together and is all professional- I liked that and it reminds me of me. I can be a bit ditzy and clutzy at the best of times but when I need to, I get my shit together and get stuff done. This is my anthem to that.

The next bit was my normal tutoring bits, buses, walks, becoming confused by where houses are (I have no sense of direction.) Then I sorted out Max with his food and some treats (have realised that I spend more money on the sausage treats I buy Max than I do on a month's supply of sausages for Paul and myself...) and headed up to Eltham. I live tweeted the whole thing, like the proper social media whore that I am. I then chose the envelopes which were incredibly boring- no rainbows or amazing stars (where's paperchase when you need it?) but they did the job as I sat on the steps next to the Yak and Yeti restaurant on Eltham High street.

 Here's the end product in my loopy handwriting. As you can see, the stamp is wonky in the top right hand corner, a bit like my genes!

I then tried to take a picture as I posted it but for some reason, the screen flashed but no photo was taken but only realised this after I had shut my eyes, held my breath and popped it into the black void of Royal Mail who will hopefully escort it safely into the hands of the dreaded seventh floor of Guys Hospital! Again there was another strange noise- more of a release noise. Not in my hands anymore noise. Relief noise.

So after several cheerleader cries from the twitterati and Facebook (thank you everyone!), I headed off to find cake and chai to celebrate:

I've seen a couple of brilliant pictures that are entirely fitting of the PGD posting day:
This fits so well with the idea of it being time to bring those babies home. The healthy cuddly ones.
And this one fits with a dual meaning- enough shit now, time to get stuff done and also I feel brave for what I did today. I was finally strong enough to get the ball rolling.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Who Can I Turn To? (When Nobody Needs Me)

It's National Infertility Awareness Week in America- I'm not sure that we really have one here in the UK but a lot of my twitter friends (said in an Inbetweeners voice) have been posting blogs about issues they've come up against. Some people have written about the insensitivity of friends and family, others about the huge expense that IVF is and some about how their infertility issues are barely recognised, let alone understood by the medical profession. For me reading these blogs, it's both heartbreaking and a bit alien.

Such an odd situation as I guess I'm not a normal infertile. From the tests run last year, I have no weird shaped uterus, no polycystic ovaries, no endometriosis and I ovulate like clockwork on day 16 of each month. So I'm not really infertile at all just a bit genetically buggered really. Neither have I had any dickishness from friends and family about infertility (probably because they know I would slap 'em down like a bitch!)- in fact, lots of people have come forward about their experiences of losses and problems. To offer their love and support at a point, let's be frank, is a bitch of a time! 

As for my sort of infertility, there were no big surprises. I've known since I was tiny that I had wonky chromosomes. I know that there are some people who find out they have issues in their teens but I've known since a small child. Obviously, I didn't know all of the implications until I was 16 in that dreadful room on the seventh floor of Guys Tower but I've known a bloody long time. Also, I've got something that doesn't really affect my health much (as far as they know!) My wonky genes don't cause pain or discomfort, neither are they leading to some dreadful death (that we know of...!) My translocation is not an issue really until you start trying for a baby and it is recognised as being a "thing", although I have had to explain it to doctors who are non-fertility based.

As for the IVF, that's where I feel like the biggest bitch twat idiot on this planet. There's not a day that goes by where I don't thank my lucky stars that I was born post Aneurin Bevan. That I can ring my GP, drag my sorry arse to a hospital or go to a walk in centre, be treated for free and walk away with only a prescription charge of under £10 per item? I call that really bloody lucky. To make it worse, they then go and offer me not only IVF but PGD. Instead of it being £8-12000, you may have to pay for some drugs but other than that *F*R*E*E*. I have a particular friend in the US who has started a crowdfunder to get her an IVF cycle- read more about her here. She also makes some pretty jewellery which is also going towards her baby goal-and there's 50% off at the moment!Oh and where is that form that will get me free goes at having a baby with better chances of walking away with one to cuddle? Yep, still under my coffee table. Throughout my life, I've been accused of pissing my chances up the wall. At school, work and uni, not working to my full potential and messing around. I feel like that form is one of these opportunities.

It sits there bloody taunting me. Calling me a wuss. Every now and then, it shouts- telling me I'm a selffish cow when others can't afford treatment. Sometimes, it's kinder and asks why I haven't posted it yet but generally whenever I walk into the frontroom, I feel it rolling its eyes at me. 

The thing is I am infertile. I'm an infertile not because I have issues with getting pregnant. I have issues staying pregnant as you well know. I'm an infertile because even when I find that I'm pregnant, I will never feel any peace or joy in seeing those two lines. Two lines to me means loss. Another failure. It has now gotten to the stage that I don't think I would want to tell anyone except extremely close family (or my twitter buds) that we were expecting a baby until it was born. I'm bloody good at hiding in my house and I'm enough of a manipulative Scorpio that I would be able to spin a yarn about still drinking and smoking it up to make people believe that nothing had changed. 

PGD offers some kind of hope that there would be a decent enough embryo that would implant and lead to a healthy baby but it isn't a given and how many times can you toss your heart out there to have it mown down by some freaking huge articulated lorry (something I am really scared of. I hate articulated trucks. Oh and bridges.)?

For a while, I felt a bit of an outsider with the IF community on Twitter- especially when you think that I haven't been through IVF or had problems with getting pregnant but when it clicked that actually, I'm a wonky infertile and we have been trying to have a baby for 21months- almost two freaking years! I truly started to feel like I belonged and not in a "I'll favourite your tweets" or a "Here's a funny anecdote" way. We're all going through similarly different shit. We cry together. Understand the anger and confusion. We all "get" the lack of naivety that it brings. 

We also laugh together. I am now at the point that I walk down the street and think, "Shit, it was so and so's appointment today, I wonder how that went?" Or I'm in a department store and I see towels with foxes on and think of a particular member of the community. I was even on the underground the other day and saw a poster for an Orang-Utan exhibition and made a note to let one of the girls know. It is an obsession, keeping up with everyone's news and our little chats but I know one day, I won't get to be a part of it. I'll be pushed to one side where the pregnancies go as it is hard talking to people about something you have and they don't. Or I'll break away because it'll be time to move on. Time to leave the ovulation kits, the vitamins and the endless doctors appointments. Time to walk away from having a baby.

Right now, they're my lifeline. Whilst I feel trapped in the Stevie Smith poem, Not Waving But Drowning, they are the pod of dolphins keeping my chin above the water. 

So National Infertility Awareness Week, here's my UK offering to you. I am going to send that fucking form tomorrow as a thank you to all the love from the twitterati. My women and men in America especially as I have the opportunity to have something that you have to fight for.

Not for the necklace, Lauren ;)

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Are you happy now?

I met up with my best friend yesterday. This is the girl with whom I have had a 27 year relationship and yet, I hadn't seen her since the beginning of November.

Yeah, that long.

Kat and I have been friends since we were tiny tear-aways in navy blue pinafores and bowler hats. We were very different to the other children that went to our primary- we were loud, refused to sit in a chair for too long and were constantly in trouble. One day, when we were about 4, she made a tiny mark on my work so whilst she was talking to the teacher, I calmly walked over to her place, picked up her work, scribbled on the table, put the work back down and walked away again. When she got into trouble, she knew I had done it- looked me dead in the face and grinned- that was it. Firm friends!

We spent days running around in each other's gardens, pretending to be flying cats, listening to Riki Tiki Tavi and irritating her older sister who was then sitting her A Levels. She was there when my little brother was born when I was 6- we still have the card her mum sent to my mum. We climbed trees and were generally quite wild together (read normal children). It had to come to an end though. She had to leave school as her mum and step dad were moving away from Blackheath out to the wilds of Kent. We then only met up during the holidays and for birthdays. Sadly, it came to a real end when Kat moved to France.

I'd lost my partner in crime to the continent. This is going to sound dramatic but there wasn't a single day that went by where I didn't think about her. Whenever a new girl started, I would make a beeline, trying to replace Kat with her. It never worked of course. I then changed schools when I was 10 to a school that I would stay at until I went to uni- a very pretty, tiny school in Chislehurst. Whilst, I was much happier, it was still tough. I was bullied terribly in my first two and half years there. I found a new group of friends, one in particular I was very close to. We haven't seen each other since school but when I first started my blog, she got in touch saying how sorry she was and how she was terrified that she would have issues as she was just about to get married and wanted to start a family. I feel terrible but I deleted her when I found out she was pregnant. I just couldn't take the sonograms and babygros. She's about to have her first daughter in the next week or two.

Anyway, back to Kat! So this other girl and I fell out in about Year 9 over some rumours. Year 10 started and at the beginning of every term there would be a pile of hymn books with new girls' names written on the front on post-its. In the other class (yes, my secondary was that small that it was two form entry!), on the wooden teacher desk at the front of the room, there was a small blue hymn book with her name written in capital letters. When she came in, we stood there looking at each other and said, "Are you, you?" and that was it. The rest is history. The terrible two were reunited for the majority of their teens, all of their twenties and the rest of their lives.

Yes, we've had some shit times. Overdoses, divorces, abuse, bad boyfriends, huge geographical distances, depression, eating disorders. We've come to the brink of our friendship falling to pieces with threatened divorces but we've always fought it back together again. In the past few years, we've managed to be not only in the same country but the same city which has made our friendship a lot easier! In the past six years, we've managed to become quite respectable in our old age- she a GP and I a teacher, both with mortgages, husbands and animals.

It wasn't until yesterday that I realised just how incredibly disconnected from the world I'd become since my 31st birthday. We were meant to go to the 5pm Hot Bikram Yoga at London Bridge but due to traffic, we ended up going for kaffee und kuchen over in Shad Thames and went to a later session. During our cakes, Kat looked me directly in the eye and asked if she'd pissed me off. It was then that I realised that I hadn't seen her since our HBY sessions at the beginning of November. I had become such a hermit (as I am wont to) that I hadn't really spoken to her or seen her since then. Strangely, our lives had also followed a parallel of falling to bits and picking up the pieces both through stress and workload during our absence from each other's lives.

Of course, she hadn't pissed me off. It has just been a mad few months of illness and sadness- none of which reflected upon her. She was worried that it was because she had been so wrapped up in her wedding where I was so ill- both miscarrying and getting over the allergic reaction. She was scared that I was alone and of course that isn't the case either. I've just been unable to form proper sentences through stress and illness. Stewing in my own misery until my fingers became all pruney.

I was so glad to see her yesterday. See the girl with whom all the shit just goes away. The girl who gets my weird and I get hers too. One of the upsides of my new job is that I need a travel card to get to it, not just a bus pass so it means I can get over to hers, stay there if it gets too late and not worry about forking out another £10 for a travelcard the next day. Kat was also worried about just turning up. My friend Alex did that to me in January- just turned up out of the blue which forced me into a situation of talking and interacting. It's a bit like I said yesterday in the list- you need definite offers and sometimes you might even need a, "I'm here, you don't need to talk- I'm cooking you dinner. Choose a DVD and pour the wine." That for hermits like me, is the best thing ever. Seriously. Just turn up, ignore the fact that the washing up may have stacked up and order a pizza.

Kat also noticed that with my absence in her life, I'd also not been writing as much and when I did it was always rotating around that same misery theme. I remember in a book that I read in French Women Writers of the Second Wave of Feminism (oh yes, I was that girl. I did those courses at uni!), there's was a Simone De Beauvoir collection of short stories- "The woman destroyed"- where she explored older women whose cause de vivre had been taken away- be it jobs/ husbands/ kids. In one of the stories, she repeats the words "J'en ai marre" 132 times which takes up roughly three sides of paper. The repetition showing just how utterly consumed she was by rage and how incapable she was of removing herself from that situation. Exactly where I was. For my Christmas/birthday present, I got  a beautiful embroidered notebook, stickers, a kaleidoscope (which Kat correctly mentioned is how I see the world anyway) and a book called "How are you feeling" by David Shearer. All to make me laugh and start writing more!

I will Kat. I'll also start seeing you more as I've been a bit crap but I'm back now.

I've missed you, girl.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

So do I say sorry first?

I've spoken about triggers before- a trigger is something that unsettles you if you're feeling a bit wobbly. Those times that Paul quickly finds another channel without babies or adverts about families with their 2.4 children whilst I get red eyed and sniffly.

John Lewis is a big trigger for me. When I was starting to lose baby number 3, we went to pick up some bits I'd got for Christmas and to spend the last few vouchers of our wedding list. I was bleeding on and off and feeling like shit but I was definite that I needed to DO THIS RIGHT NOW. Yes, it was stupid. I should have rested at home but it was something structured to do. Christmas shopping before we ran off for our honeymoon in the US, it needed doing. Paul and I stopped for some lunch in the cafe there and there was the ugliest baby you could ever imagine sitting at the table next to us. She had that child snot that smells funny (if you're a teacher or a parent, you know exactly what smell I'm talking about) and was generally a bit meh. When I miscarry, the morning sickness becomes even more heightened so I was running to and from the loo every five minutes and all I could smell was this poor kid's snot. She was unwell, poor baby and probably shouldn't have been dragged around the shops by her parents but she became the target of my anger at losing another baby.

She was quite fixated on Paul and kept looking at him, grinning. That pissed me off even more. Why should she get to look at Paul when our baby doesn't? So he started chatting to her and I ran off to vomit and wail in the toilets.

As for the shopping trip, I bought all the wrong stuff too. Didn't check what things were before we bought them so we ended up with mismatching pillowcases and all different styles of pillows (I never knew there were so many styles!). We also have one funny knife and fork that don't match the rest. They're like constant reminders of that horrible day! They sit there in the airing cupboard and in the cutlery drawer saying, "You silly cow. You should have just left it until after you came back from America."

I still hate John Lewis but I'm determined to beat my hatred. I was there yesterday with my mum whilst we were picking up my Easter present (a tailor's dummy). I swerved and grimaced at the yummy mummies with their huge LOOK AT MY FUCKING BABY prams and I had tunnel vision through the baby section that you have to walk through to get to the cafe. The knitting pattern book that my mum had pointed out when I was pregnant with baby number 4 was still there. The Silver Cross pram that she said she'd get us was there. Sadly, the babies that those pregnancies were meant to have those clothes and pram aren't here.

A lot of people have been distressed by other people's reactions to their pregnancy losses, so how should you react? A pregnancy loss is a normal occurrence. Obviously- some people never lose a pregnancy and then there are people like me keeping up the averages! Nevertheless, it's a regular thing that happens to a lot of people and this is my ten things that I needed people to do and know when I lost my five. (This is in no specific order.)

1)  Acknowledge the baby that was lost: You might not have cooed over the expanding bump, liked the grainy sonogram or run out to buy cute baby socks but there was the potential of life there and from the moment I saw the two lines on the pregnancy test, I wasn't just experiencing cell division, I was expecting a baby. 

2) Let them cry: No, I really didn't need to cheer up. I needed to grieve. A  loss is a loss whether you have countless memories or just a fleeting moment. There's a lot of blaming yourself and your body when you lose a baby- it has let you down in the worst way possible and you need to scream, shout, tear at your hair and be angry. Love cannot only be measured by time but also by lost hopes, expectations and dreams

3) Don't expect an instant reaction: It takes time for things to sink in. For a long time I talked about the pregnancies as embryos/ foetuses. It's taken a long time to link those things with babies.

4) Be sensitive: Complaining about your kids makes me want to roundhouse kick you in the face. Seriously. I have hidden a lot of people's Facebook feeds or even deleted people because I can't take their moaning about sleepless nights, feeling like a cow or kids vomiting on them. Another sore point are endless bump pics and complaints about pregnancy- I might be saying it but believe me, I'm not the only one who thinks it about your posts, pregnancy loss or not. 
Sensitivity also goes for what you say. I know you want to tell me in a sort of Hunger Games kind of way that "The Odds Are Ever In Your Favour", but right after a loss I'm Rue. The little dead girl covered in flowers. Don't tell me it'll be ok because right then, it isn't and it's ok that it's not ok! Offering your kids is not ok either. Ever. Neither is mentioning adoption. Did you do it? No? Well then. I know it's an option but I want to have a go at having a baby that is genetically Paul's and my own right now. Believe me, working in Woolwich as a teacher is knowledge enough of what a decent home can do for a child but I want to have a go at having my own.

5) Don't forget Dad too: He is very lost as to what's going on. He has an emotional mess for a partner who is bleeding heavily and still has symptoms of pregnancy like sore boobs or vomiting even though they've lost the baby. He's also lost a baby too- he had a part in creating it and there are moments when this hits them. Like when co-workers ask about the due date of the baby that was lost a few months before or even those kindly folk that ask when there's going to be kids as you make, "such a lovely couple"! Don't forget about them, they're doing the daily mopping of tears, walking the dog and trying to keep things going whilst other bits fall apart.

6) Support: A kind look, a hug or an arm squeeze means a lot. There are words for people who lose their parents or partners but there is no word for someone who has lost their child. You don't need to say anything just a wink in your direction as your face starts to fall can mean the difference between glistening eyes or a full breakdown.
Specific help can really help too- don't say, "Call me, if you need anything"- offer instead to go for a walk, or a night out or a trip to a gallery.

7) Religion: As someone who is pretty irreligious, I still find comfort in hearing that you have spoken to angels or been praying for me. That to me says how much you love and care for me and means the world. Saying that it's god's will however may result in me punching you to a bloody pulp. It just shows ignorance and insensitivity- at least look at it scientifically- they would never have been a healthy baby with that genetic code. That gives me comfort without you bringing god into it.

8) Cards and things: Personally, I like things that remind me of happy memories. I have a jug I painted with my mates- I think it was for my thirtieth birthday- it is so lairy and bright with swirly paint, it's brilliant! I don't really want to have a house full of teddies telling me that I'm in someone's thoughts. For some people it's helpful, me, not so much. my keychain is full of things that my class have made or bought for me so much that I struggle to get my keys in the door. The one time I had one of those "Hallmark/Clintons" by the counter things bought for me was by a kid in my class who wanted an angel to look after me. That kid is now 15 and I still have it. I don't want things to remind me of my losses. I may at some point buy some plants to go in the garden as a memory of each baby but cards and things aren't my thing. If you must spend you money on me, I'll have a bottle of gin or red wine but really your money would be better put into a charity who might work towards other people not going through this.

9) Significant dates: Due dates are a bitch. They ooze sniping self criticism and the type of darkness that can only be achieved by having your eyes gouged out and then being buried fifty feet below the Earth's surface. Not only due dates though, the different trimesters, Christmas, Easter, birthdays and wedding anniversaries. They're all a bit shit because there's something you haven't achieved unlike the rest of mankind. Please understand if we become a little teary or grumpy on this day and the days around it.

10) Everyone is different: No list for how to look after someone after a pregnancy loss will ever match someone's needs. I've seen quite a few on the interwebs and most of them make me angry. This is just my idea of how I need to be looked after. Everyone's grief process is different. Some people bounce straight back, some people never move on. Everyone's triggers are different too. Loss is hard- think when you have lost someone who you were very close to. It doesn't take days, weeks, months to get "over it", once someone has been a part of your life, they always will. Life is fleeting-you just need to love well and work hard to get through it.

Over and out.