Monthly Archives: May 2008

I am an albatross. You may not shoot me.

Today has been quite bad. Mostly because I am extremely angry.

Things I am seething about right now:

  1. On visiting a particular post on a person’s blog, it is always wise to check their latest post as well. Or you might find yourself writing something wildly inappropriate, for the blogger’s particular circumstance that is, and making said blogger angry and tearful. Again. After she’s been like that all day. And has a headache now.
  2. If one of your students emails you on a Thursday morning to tell you she won’t be coming into college or finishing her course-work on time because she’s having a miscarriage instead, for chrissakes email her back within 24 hours, or at least before the weekend, or she’ll waste precious fretting reserves on worrying whether you a) got the email, b) are going to cut her the required slack, c) give a fuck, or d) all three.
  3. Do not ask a miscarrying woman if there was something she could have done to save the pregnancy. If there was, don’t you think she would have fucking well done it? Seriously, do you think she sat there thinking ‘Oh, if I don’t do this, I might miscarry, but hey, I can’t be arsed.’? No? You don’t think that? Then what in hell’s name did you say it for? I think I shall be waking up at three in the morning to chew my nails to the quick over this one for many many weeks to come. Thanks, Mum.
  4. Dear NHS doctors and nurses, I do love you really, but could you be less damn chirpy when discussing the rearranging of ultrasounds and possible D&C/ ERPCs? I do understand that Wednesday is the earliest day you could book me into theatre, and I do understand that moving the ultrasound to Wednesday morning therefore makes sense, even though it was originally scheduled for Monday, and I know the delay is partly because I took so long to get back to you with a decision about ‘surgical management of the miscarriage’. The delay is upsetting, yes, but unavoidable. The fucking chirpy brisk matter-of-fact attitude is totally fucking avoidable. I am having a miscarriage here, not a bloody tonsillectomy. Show some respect.
  5. This whole process keeps stopping and starting. I bleed. I stop bleeding. I cramp. I stop cramping. I start bleeding again. I stop. My back hurts. This is driving me crazy. Chirpy NHS Minion assured me this was ‘within normal’. She also seemed to think it would practically guarantee I’d need surgery on Wednesday. See? My body can’t even do this properly. Define properly, mind you.

I think I am especially angry today because I had to phone the ACU and the EPU and leave messages explaining everything to answerphones and minions and then wait forever for them to get back to me and then explain everything all over again.

I looked at myself in the mirror earlier today. I look grey, almost gaunt, and there are circles under my eyes. I went up to H and said ‘I look like shit,’ and he kindly, regretfully agreed. This is a good thing. It would be inappropriate to look my usual rosy round-faced comedy milk-maid self.


Rags and tatters

To all those who came, and who will come, here via NaComLeavMo, err, not good, huh? I am particularly sorry for those who, for whatever reason, ended up going away feeling they’d been walloped upside the head with a two-by-four. Believe me, if I’d known I’d be facing you all with this kind of crap, I’d’ve never joined up. As it is, I’ll probably get around to doing some commenting at some point, but I think I’m allowed off playing it strictly by the rules for a while.

Therefore, to all those of you who did leave comments, such kind comments, I don’t know how to say thank you. It means so much to me that so many people where able to say not only a few kind words, but the RIGHT kind words.

Meanwhile WordPress, the fools, let you see the day you got most visits in your blog stats. They call it your ‘best day ever’. Guess what day that is for me at the moment. Go on, guess. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Physically, this is taking forever. I counted on my fingers – I have been bleeding, on and off, for very nearly two weeks now. The doctor I saw Tuesday assured me it could take another two weeks, I suppose because despite all the blood the pathetic little remnants that should have been Pikaia were still firmly in there. I hadn’t really been in much pain either, until last night, when my lower back started hurting like the blazes. I knocked myself out with opiates (hurrah for codeine) and actually got six hours sleep and a long complicated dream about book-reviews and prawn-catching in a flooded castle. Now, I am cramping more but bleeding less.

Seeing H so sad is breaking my heart.

On Monday we go back to the EPU for another scan. We have to decide whether we want a D&C if nothing much has budged. I think we will. When the doctor first asked me, minutes after showing me the ultrasound of the little, misshapen thing that wasn’t my baby, I simply couldn’t answer the question. I was quite angry to be asked at all. How the hell should I know what I want? I’ve just been told my precious pregnancy is doomed. I don’t know anything except that I want to be a long long way away from this little dark room full of briskly kind strangers. But now, after a couple of days sat at home bleeding irresolutely, I am quite sure I couldn’t stand more than another week of it. If it’s not over by Monday, make it be over.

H has taken a few days of work. His boss has kindly encouraged him to, on the grounds that I need him. Which is very true. But H needs to grieve and recover as well. It seems to me society tends to blank the poor partners and assume this is all about the miscarrying woman. And yes, we get all the physical horrors to deal with. But would I rather be H, watching the love of my life suffer and know there’ll be no tiny longed-for person for her to hold in January? I think I’d rather be me.

I had to email work, and my tutor at university, to explain my prolonged absence and total inability to finish my course-work on time. I cried my eyes out over both emails. God DAMN, but writing them sucked.

I now have to call the ACU to cancel the viability scan I was to have on Monday, and ask them what I should do when. I assume they’ll be quite pleased – though I hope to God they have the tact not to say so – as I clearly respond very nicely to quite a low dose of Clomid. I assume I’ll be doing a few more Clomid cycles in a few months’ time. It seems completely irrelevant at the moment. Whatever could future cycles and possibilites have to do with this fucking horrible week here now?

My Mum is coming over this afternoon to see me. This was supposed to be my birthday treat – lunch and chatting out with Mum. I am refusing to leave the house, so it will be tea and skulking in with Mum.

No doubt Mum will leave me feeling loved, comforted, exasperated, alternately six years old and sixty, and vaguely homicidal. She is unbelievably ignorant about the mechanics of the female body – and she has three daughters! She asked me on the phone on Tuesday night whether they couldn’t ‘stop it’ by ‘stitching the womb closed’. My mouth politely told her that no, that was for much bigger, older babies who were otherwise fine. It wouldn’t help in my case. Inside my head, I raged at her for minutes on end. Stupid bloody woman. As if I could want a blighted ovum to be sealed inside me. I am glad H is here as well. I don’t think I will be very good at dealing with well-meaning cretinous questions and suggestions.

Another of her suggestions: ‘We shall have to hold a little ceremony.’ My mouth: ‘Hmmm’. Inside my head, general inarticulate ‘butt the fuck out!’ screaming. We shan’t have to do a bloody thing I don’t want to do.


Mum has been and gone. She brought flowers, white and pale pink and beautifully scented. And the first thing she did was grill me about whether there was anything I could have done/ could do next time to prevent this. I tell myself she meant well, and wanted to help, and was not in any way accusing me of fucking up this pregnancy. I do not cry. I give her a brief lesson in genetics, crap-shoot of. She looks thoughtful and mentions using my eggs in a surrogate’s womb. I do not hit her with a chair. I say hotly ‘but there’s NOTHING WRONG with my uterus!’. I should know – no uterus in the entire family has been more thoroughly checked over. She goes off on a tangent about special ‘barefoot technology’ running shoes, and how wearing some might help. Even I, used to my mother’s knit-your-own-granola lunacy, am baffled by this one and disappoint her by showing no interest whatsoever in the stupid shoes. I forcibly wrestle the subject away to other family members. We amicably discuss them instead. Towards the end of the visit, she talks about both of us taking a day to go and see my grandmother. I say I seem to have run out of spare days at the moment, what with work and study. She cheerfully says we could do it during my maternity leave. I am gobsmacked. It transpires she means my next pregnancy’s maternity leave. I say gruffly that I don’t want to think about that. She carries on, making a joking remark about how I’ll probably be spending all of it lying down anyway. At this point I just want her to go away. Luckily, the traffic is preying on her mind and she goes shortly after.

I love her dearly, really I do. She is generous and loving and I know she is so sad for me right now. I must keep telling myself this.

Meanwhile, the rain pours down outside.

No Pikaia

No heart-beat.

No foetal pole.

Irregular gestational sac, too small for dates.


Speculative Mania

Tomorrow morning early, I am going to the Early Pregnancy Unit for another scan, to see if Pikaia has grown (good) or not (bad) or even has a heart-beat (please please please). And to see where the bleeding is coming from, with any luck (still bleeding, albeit a great deal less. Not happy about this, just in case anyone had any doubts on the matter).

I am so scared.

H’s grandmother called this evening, just about as delighted as can be, and of course she has told all her friends and relations within seconds of finding out herself. She found out from H’s parents. I am rather wishing I’d thought to tell H to tell his parents to NOT tell grandparents until we had a heart-beat. H’s family have been through a lot of tragedies the past few years, and the thought of adding more pain just tears at my heart.

I had been fairly chirpy all day – ooh, ooh, and also queasy! – but that phone-call has forcibly reminded me of the stakes. So, scared.

Obviously, I thought no one would be able to be confident in a pregnancy like this one (I’ve been bleeding for over a week now. Hurrah! So fun! So reassuring!). But apparantly, some people are confident in it. I told the friend I had gone to the theatre with – I had to, I nearly threw up on his shoes – and he was very humorous on the subject of my becoming public property and his no longer having first dibs on the spare room. Ah ha ha. Even after I pointed out the whole thing was absolutely terrifying and what about all the repeat visits to scan-land lined up for me. Err, no, I didn’t discuss the way I was bleeding at that very second. Do you think I should have, or would it have ruined what was left to ruin of the day for everyone? My Mum sent me a pair of pyjamas for my birthday, with a note apologising for this being my present considering that they wouldn’t fit me for much longer. Of course, if they do fit me for ever so much longer, I will hate the sodding things for fitting.

How can people have such faith anything good is going to come out of this? How can they be so sure Pikaia is still in there? I’m not sure Pikaia is still in there. I am nauseous, my breasts have not only expanded but become firmer and boingier (H confirms this, and was quite impressed), there’s the positive, nay, POSITIVE pee-sticks, I suddenly don’t like chocolate very much (this is so unlike me I am bloody furious about it), and yet I know, I KNOW this all means absolutely nothing at all. Just because I am full of progesterone and HCG doesn’t mean I am also full of live embryo.

Brief reports from the cliff-edge

Item: Still bleeding. In fact, what with yesterday being my birthday and one of the days I was spending some twelve hours at the theatre, I bled even more heavily. As I was not in any pain, had retched violently that morning and the previous one, and there were no (TMI) clots or shreds of anything worrying, I stiffened my upper lip and ignored it.

Item: Or pretended to ignore it. Or was consumed with private thoughts of the bitter irony of miscarrying on my birthday during one of the most bloody, gore-soaked stage-productions I have seen in a long while.

Item: This morning’s pee-stick (umm, yeah, still doing that every few days. Believe me, so would you under the circumstances) came up positive before the pee had even soaked as far as the control line. The yes/no line is considerably darker than the control line too. All this means is that in the past eight hours, I have secreted rather a lot of HCG. It means nothing else at all. Nevertheless, it cheered me up.

Item: It is the Bank Holiday weekend and the Early Pregnancy Unit is closed until Tuesday. If things are making me frantic, I can always go back to Accident & Emergency, but actually, I want a look with a decent scanner and someone who KNOWS about early pregnancy on the other end of the wand. Because, if Pikaia hasn’t budged, I want to know where the FUCKING HELL all this blood is coming from. So I am waiting until Tuesday. Unless Something Happens.

Item: And I haven’t felt sick yet today. As I seem to cycle rapidly between morning sickness and evening sickness, but never both on the same day, this probably means nothing. But my boobs are less painful. Cue mad woman crushing her chest with her hands and hissing ‘hurt, damn you, hurt!’ Pregnancy can turn you into a perfect masochist.

Item: I mentioned at the end of the last post that we’d started telling people. I’m not entirely sure what H’s rationale was, but mine was ‘I want people to know that Pikaia exists. Even if s/he doesn’t exist for much longer, I want people to know of Pikaia during his/her lifetime. I don’t want people to know of him/her as just a sad little episode in my past.’ For my birthday, therefore, I received a couple of extremely excited and congratulatory cards. They made me smile and cry all at the same time.

Item: My mother is being a star, excited but cautious, concerned, caring. My father got drunk, took H aside, ordered him to look after me, and declared H to be his besht mate. Oy. He also did not respond in any way to the part about bleeding and the afternoon spent in A&E. However, he did set fire to the chopping knife while cooking dinner and then pick it up by its molten handle, burning himself and flinging the flaming thing across the kitchen, and yes, it did glance (harmlessly) off me. My Dad, the psychosomatizer.

Item: H’s parents do not know about the bleeding and the scariness. H simply couldn’t think how to tell them over the phone.

Item: I am not enjoying being pregnant AT ALL.

I heart the NHS

Past 24 hours – total head-fuck. Total. Head. Fuck.

I had the morning off (was supposed to be writing case-study), and decided midday was as good a time as any to have a shower. I was washing my hair, no doubt humming and generally demonstrating text-book insouciance, as required by narrative imperative, when I looked down.

There was red blood running down my leg.

It no doubt says something very interesting about human nature that I nevertheless finished rinsing my hair and got dressed before calling the ACU. No one answered the phone, so I left a message and then called H on the other phone to, well, weep silently at him, really. I wasn’t bleeding very heavily, but it was fresh, and definitely NOT spotting, and suddenly the aching and twinges I had been feeling in my right side, and had dismissed as the vagaries of Queen Satsuma, assumed a meaning so ominous I think my heart stopped.

Nice Lady Wand Monkey had clearly been at lunch, and called back shortly before 2, and to my horror, agreed that this sounded rather serious and I should go straight to the nearest A&E and say unto them ‘possible ectopic’.

I called H again, sobbing and for some freaky reason apologising, and begged him to come down to the hospital too and meet me there. And then I went and caught the bus, got off at the wrong stop in my flusterment, and ended up walking down the high street through crowds and crowds of push-chairs and bellies, and the blood kept trickling out of me. And as I walked, I thought that Pikaia was dead, or never had been, and was taking the one-and-only tube with her/him. Sunshine, and babies, and me, red-eyed, in the middle of it all.

To give you an idea of just how utterly panicked I was, my heart-rate was 135, and the triage nurse whisked me off into the Resuscitation Room for an ECG, me protesting that it was just because I was freaked out, and H trailing behind with all the bags and coats and being made to wait in the corridor like a pack-horse outside a saloon. In Resuscitation, in the next cubicle, some poor bastard was being worked over by ten paramedics, and then there was me, stripping to the waist without even thinking about it in front of the (male) triage nurse and letting him stick stickers all over my boobs, and feeling a complete fraud, especially when two doctors rushed into our cubicle shouting ‘what is it? Chest pain?’ and had to be shooed away again. The nurse was very terse and quiet, but in a good way – he squeezed my hand and patted it while waiting for the trace, and seeing it was normal, gently encouraged me not to freak out quite that much. He led me and my pack horse back to triage, took the rest of my history – I promise I wasn’t crying or flailing about but what with the heart-rate the immortal word ‘distraught’ appears on my records – and then, oh bless the dear man, told me he understood how important this was, as he and his wife had done IVF. No reason on earth to share that, but he wanted me to know he understood.

There was a bit of a wait to be admitted to Acute Gynaecology, so H and I sat in the A&E waiting room, half-watching a detective drama on the telly, and not-staring at the other patients, and trying to read magazines. H even went off on a shopping expedition to get me a bottle of water (which I was then too distracted to drink much of). I was still bleeding red, and pretty much convinced everything had gone to hell in a hand-cart, but having H there and knowing there were doctors all over the place did calm me down from jaw-clenched silence to frantic irrelevant babbling (I am a natural babbler. Anyone can tell you how unnatural silence is to me and what a deep sign of anxst it is).

Finally we were sent up to Acute Gynaecology. I am glad H was listening, because I simply couldn’t remember a single direction after the initial ‘take the second left.’ H led me through the maze of corridors and covered passage-ways (me babbling about how nice the hospital gardens were, look! Ornamental alliums!) and we were met by the consultant, who was very surprised we’d walked, as apparantly my heart-rate suggested wheel-chairs, which somehow made me feel more fraudulent than ever, as I am as neurotic as a race-horse (without the physique) and clearly react to stress in full-out ‘must run from tigers! Must climb trees! Must fight with fists!’ mode and now this is worrying everyone…

After a pause in which the nurse was unearthed from wherever she had got to, I was led behind the curtain for the all-important ultrasound, half-undressed, and look! Stirrups! I’ve never used stirrups before! And damn me, but they’re uncomfortable. The consultant got down to scanning me, and H came in and stood at my feet (what a view for a husband, his bleeding wife being probed by a condom-covered rod in the hands of a complete stranger. I notice he kept his eyes fixed on the screen).

And he said, ‘I can see an intra-uterine pregnancy’, and I half-sobbed, half-laughed… briefly, because sobbing shakes one rather and shaking with a dildo-cam in place is awkward. The relief that is was not ectopic was down-right painful, like pins-and-needles after your foot has gone to sleep.

However, the consultant couldn’t get a good look at the pregnancy. My uterus seemed full of static, or tin-foil shreds, like a stealth bomber radar disruptor. He wanted to see a yolk-sac, and the image was just too blurred. In the end, he decided we’d have to call in the Super-Sonographer. I got to take my feet off the stirrups and relax the growing cramp in my thighs, and H got to stand there, and we waited while the nurse hunted for Super-Sonographer and the consultant was relentlessly pestered by page, and had to keep phoning people to explain he was with an emergency.

Super-Sonographer was adorable, pretty, dainty, soft-spoken, and kind. I managed to get myself more comfortably into the beastly stirrups this time, and she tried a great many possible and even a few impossible angles to get a good look at my uterine contents. And eventually she and the consultant agreed that there was a yolk-sac, and that the gestational sac looked good and ‘like a doughnut’ – this is apparantly also good but I do wonder if I hallucinated it. At 24 days-post-ovulation, the fetal pole would be minute, and therefore no one was particularly bothered that what with the tin-foil no one could see it, though Super-Sonographer thought she saw a sort of, no, maybe not. The entire thing, invisible possible-Pikaia, carry-cot, play-pen, catering facilites and all, was 7.7mm across. So, so tiny. And yet, for an ‘adjusted due to ovulating on day 17’ 5wk2d pregnancy, on target.

And then the consultant and the Super-Sonographer spent several minutes examining and discussing my haematoma. It was well away from the gestational sac (I say well away. Scale is everything. It was less than an inch from the gestational sac) and neatly pooled over my very very closed cervix. I was warned that I may bleed for another few days, either as spotting or even in gushes, as it made its way out. And it didn’t appear to be emananting from the sac. Unexplained bleed. Dear God. I – I – I just – I – ohhhh, Lord.

As for Satsuma, she was quietly but proudly bearing a corpus luteum and otherwise looking completely normal. As was the fallopian tube.

None of this is a guarantee that everything will carry on being fine. I have another scan next week, when they’ll expect to see a foetal pole and possibly even a heart-beat, and where I’ll pray and beg to see them – did I ever mention I was an atheist? But meanwhile the rush of pure, sugary, relief that filled H and I as we walked slowly home in the sunshine bounced us into phoning family and telling them.

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley

Complicated week, this

Still spotting, but very little. I called the ACU this morning, and the Nice Lady Wand Monkey Nurse called back to go through my concerns with me, and decided that as long as the spotting stays brown and pink and light, and I am not in pain, or at least, not in consistent pain (I am still getting twinges and dull aches, but they never last for more than half an hour at a time), I can just carry happily on until my Viability Scan on the 2nd. If it gets worse, call back. If it gets much worse, rush madly to the nearest A&E. As this is pretty much my ‘How to survive the exams’ plan, I felt a warm glow of smugness at my common sense slosh through me for, oh, minutes on end, before remembering that I had nevertheless had another little weep yesterday night, and freaked H out into the bargain, which gave him stomach ache for the rest of the evening (H emotes with his digestive system. It’s no fun at all).

So. Am training myself to ignore the spotting and get back to the happy.

This is going to be the most taxing week. It started with the exam, survived that. But there’s more. Oh yes:

Item: Tomorrow I am going to dinner with my father. He is down this end of the country for once, staying with one of my many brothers, and I will be trekking across the city and out the other side to see him. It’s my birthday next weekend, so he particularly wants to treat me to a meal out. He is also a big drinker. I am (need I point out?) not drinking just now. Also, I cannot predict when and why I feel sick – it comes on any time between 11:30am and 5:30pm, and sometimes eating helps and sometimes eating makes me feel wretched. I am delighted to be feeling sick, it’s reassuring what with the spotting, but what exactly is a Dad to think of a non-drinking, nauseous daughter whom he knows is doing fertility treatment? Exactly. This may all lead to a premature reveal, coupled with frantic telling-everyone-else-Thursday-morning. Not our plan, that. Bother. On the other hand, Dad would be tickled absolutely pink to be the first to know (apart from H, and you guys, and half the ACU staff, and an online friend of H’s who is in the exact same situation, down to diagnosis and treatment and a recent BFP, that is. We needn’t tell him about that).

Item: The builders are coming back to FINALLY (argh argh grr snarl) finish the bathroom floor on Thursday morning. Why they couldn’t have done it properly in the first place…

Item: On Thursday afternoon, a dear friend is coming to stay for a long weekend. We are celebrating my birthday by attending eight plays in four days (the Shakespeare Histories Marathon at the Roundhouse). We planned this back in December, as we are both raving Shakespeare nuts and to us, this is bliss on earth. My huge birthday treat. I have been SO looking forward to it. My friend – let’s call him E – is a sweetheart, and may, possibly, notice if I am feeling pukey or not drinking. I can’t claim to have flu as he is something of a gentleman and will no doubt valiantly attempt to escort me home. Again, premature reveal is a distinct possibility. Heigh ho.

Item: I have a case-study to write, and a dissertation to look thoughtfully at. Eek eek eek.

Item: My current boss is starting a turf-war with my future boss over my study-leave, my leave allowances generally, and who exactly will line-manage me when Dream Job starts. As an early salvo in this war, she took me aside for a ‘little talk’ about wanting to be sure I don’t overload my job-share colleague with work while I concentrate on my studies and new role. The emotionally black-mailing tone of this, trying to guilt me into not taking my full allowance of study-leave, made me fucking furious. I have always been extremely careful to make sure job-share colleague doesn’t get landed with more work than I do, and I had always been trusted as one of the hardest-working and most responsible people on the team. I am sure this is all turf-war tactics and nothing much to do with me, but I won’t be able to continue heaving trolleys and boxes about for much longer and Lord knows what ammunition that will give her. So tomorrow I have to talk to ever so many people about this. Damn damn damn damn.