Monthly Archives: December 2010

And then there’s Family

We can’t put it off any more. We can’t get out of it. H and I are going to have to leave our (safe, geeky, quiet, with cake) nest and go to the Bunker of the Family for New Year.

Keeping in mind, the Family actually don’t know I spent Advent miscarrying (because, you know, a holiday is not a holiday unless I am bleeding and weeping ).


At some point, my Mum will get me alone in a corner and ask how all the treatment with The Professor is going (this is fine, by the way. Mum’s even paying for some of said treatment, so she has a stake in it all. Quite apart from the giving-a-toss how her daughter is stake). And I will have to tell her. And I am not looking forward to it. Not because I am expecting a Massively Unsupportive Reaction of Crap – Mum has really rather grown out of that over the past couple of years – but because Mum will be sad, and I will be sad because I have made my Mum sad, again. And then we’ll all be sad. Happy New Year, eh?

And Mum said to me this afternoon, on the phone, that my sisters were driving her nuts and she was looking forward to spending time with me, ie, the non-fucked-up, non-money-leeching, functional daughter. Oops.

This is going to be so much fun.

Meanwhile I have told H that I would prefer him to tell his lot what happened before Christmas. And I’d like him, if he feels able, to let them know how sad and bitter we are about it all. Partly, I don’t want them to feel we avoided them just because we couldn’t be arsed to trek down there through the snow, and partly, well, they’re family, and partly, because after their – God, I don’t know what exactly, tactFAIL? Memory loss? Attempt to be sympathetic but being too paralysed with social embarrassment to say the word ‘loss’ or ‘miscarriage’ or anything else appropriate or kind? – at Easter, I feel that they don’t really need to be shielded from The Sad. I mean, they took Zombryo’s loss in their stride, after all. All they ever said to me about it was a lament about the fact H and I had to go back home early and miss spending New Year 2010 with them. Oh yes. Nothing to do with the fact that we actually went to get decent medical attention from the hospital that had all my medical history in case I had an ectopic and, ohh, I don’t know, bled to death on their hideously uncomfortable sofa-bed while they all danced about being too embarrassed to talk to me. (Why, yes, I am still pissed off with them for the way they handled that. To be honest, I am still pissed off with me, for the way I handled that. I wish now I’d said, well, you can’t possibly be as sorry as I am, as I lost a good deal more than a nice tea and chat with the rellies).

I just want to be absolutely, bone-deep sure, that if anyone acts like a thoughtless, tactless, oik, about my infertility and losses, it’s because they’re an arse, and I can get on with curling my lip at them and then treating them ever after with perfect, terrifyingly elegant politeness. I absolutely do not want to spend waste hours of my life worrying that they didn’t know, or couldn’t know, or perhaps so-and-so told them and they did know, but think I didn’t want them to know so daren’t say, or do know and don’t think it’s a big deal, or think it’s such a big deal they don’t know what to say.

And now I must gird my loins, pack the rest of the Christmas gifts, and imitate the action of the tiger, disguise hard-favoured rage with fair Nature, that sort of thing. Especially when my tiresome sisters are being tiresome (I let Diva off, a bit, because she’s really barely out of adolescence and having her first go at being a University student. Trouble, however, is only a year younger than me, and lives at our mother’s rent-free, getting not only an allowance, her laundry done, and a home for her child, but endless free baby-sitting and any amount of taxi-service and being allowed to throw fits of artistic temperament in her private sitting room. I’m not bitter, except maybe for an hour or so, every other day, usually when, you know, at work, earning money to pay my own damn bills with).

It’ll only be for a few days. H is looking forward to it, as he gets on splendidly with my mother, and splendidly with my niece.

I think I shall have to have a lot of l-o-n-g country walks in the rain.

See you in 2011. May every single one of you reading this have a wonderful, beautiful year.



A few days after I told the internets that I’d lost Eurydice, I received a bouquet of flowers, a gesture of sympathy and love from HFF. There were a couple of half-open scarlet roses in the bunch, which delighted me, as I love roses above all flowers (yes, yes, not very original of me. I don’t have to be unique about everything, you know). But, you know, roses, from a British florist, in December, well, I knew they wouldn’t open fully, and they certainly wouldn’t last. A beautiful gesture, a lovely ephemera, are roses.

And I was completely, utterly, wrong. They opened, magnificently. They are still going strong today, nearly two weeks later, still on the living-room table, still a deep, heady scarlet. I don’t think I’ve ever had such beautiful, long-lived roses.

And then I received chocolate, from Sol. Bar after bar of it, in a heavy, solid parcel. And it was not just chocolate (as if any chocolate was ‘just’ chocolate). It was chocolate from her special, carefully hoarded stash, chocolate from Russia, chocolate you just can’t get in this country, and I don’t know when she’ll be able to stock up again, and she spared me so much of it, because I was sad. She even wrote ‘this is NOT a Christmas present’ on the parcel, so I would open it at once and be comforted. I still have the packet from the Russian cocoa powder she gave me once before, for similar reasons, because it comforts me to see it and remember the gift and the giver. I shall have to keep these wrappers too. Out of her stash, people!

While I was still in bed, clutching hot-water-bottles to the small of my back and feeling desperately sorry for myself, a little box arrived in the post. H brought it to me, saying it might cheer me up. I sat up, intrigued, and peeled off the layers of tape. Carefully packed inside, was a little white porcelain statuette, a Buddhist monk, hands raised and joined in greeting or prayer, eyes closed. It was very sweet, downright cute even, yet for all its dinkiness and stylisation, it had a gentle, sorrowful expression, solemn, peaceful, and grave. It’s a lovely size and shape to hold in the hand, and H and I have been doing a lot of that, picking it up, carrying it about for a while, stroking the top of its smooth head. There was a card in the box, explaining that this was a statue of the Bodhisattva Jizo. At least, that is his Japanese name; he is also known as Ksitigarbha in Sanskrit. In Japan, in particular, he is the guardian of children, especially those children who have died before their parents, and those who were aborted or miscarried. In Japanese temples, statues of him are, hearbreakingly, decorated with little baby clothes, left there by grieving parents.

And I looked at this peaceful, beautiful little thing, and I thought how perfect a gift it was. I am, by nature, about as spiritual as a house-brick (tendency to fall into fits of Wordsworth on sighting a crocus aside), but this, oh, how it moved me. I wept over it, in relief, that someone out there gets it, gets me, and does such honour to my poor little embryos.

Jizo is currently residing on the window-sill, next to the candle we keep for No Baby Sorrow moments. We light the candle, and he holds up his hands in gassho before the flame for us. And I think of the friend who sent him to me, and I am so grateful.

Today, I got yet another parcel, which the benighted postal service had been happily sitting on since Christmas Eve. This one was all the way from Australia, from Korechronicles. She’d sent us a tree ornament, the word ‘JOY’ complete with twinkling crystal pendant, in the hope we actually got some of it in 2011, and a hand-bound journal, covered in deep blue leather (mmm, smell of leather!) and stitched in turquoise. Dear internets, she made it herself. I have book-binding contacts, I know just how much skill and hard work goes into making this sort of thing from scratch, and I tell you, I am absolutely, utterly, bone-deep honoured to be given such a thing. It’s gorgeous.

I am – not that you’d guess from this post – lost for words. I don’t know quite how to describe my awe, and weepy delight, that several years ago I lost my head and started pouring my heart out to nobody in particular and the whole wide world in general, and I was talking about my recalcitrant, bolshie, miserablist uterus, of all things (NB, Sol predates the ‘I am barren, hear me snivel’ era, but I still met her on the internet), and by doing this I met people, and they were Good People, and they were there for me, and some of them stepped out of the internet and took my hand, and made me part of their Real, 3D existance, part of their joys and sorrows and celebrations, real friends of the heart, and all this because I couldn’t shut up about my reproductive equipment. I have my magical scarlet roses in December, I have rare and special chocolate, I have my Ojizo-sama, I have Joy sparkling on the bookshelf and a whole book to write wonderful things in. It knocks Miracle on 34th Street into a cocked hat, I tell you.

Be careful what you wish for

“Christmas makes everything twice as sad” – Doug Coupland (I think).

[I’m fine. I haven’t bled at all, not even spotting, for the past 24 hours. I think *looks frantically about for some wood to touch* we’re all home safe and towelling ourselves off.]

Anyway, Christmas Eve, chez the exceedingly Godless May. H and I are spending Christmas all on our lonesome again. And this is a very good thing. Christmas Family Togetherness and Cuddliness has, as ever, passed the extended May Clan by. We’re just no bloody good at it. Diva ran off to spend Tinsel Day with her shiny new boyfriend. Trouble said she was going to take Minx to see our Dad, but at the last minute decided the weather and the hassle and the everything were too much, well, hassle. Mum has gone to the Chalet of Terror again, with an assortment of her siblings, to have a ‘grown-up Christmas’. Any dutiful compunction I might have had to go spend Tinsel Day with Trouble and Minx evaporated when I lost Eurydice. Was spared any guilt at all by Diva telling us that Minx was hugely looking forward to having her mummy all to herself for a few days. Good-oh. Dad, meanwhile, is being Scrooge-of-the-Glen and refusing to ask any of us to go there for Christmas because ‘he can tell we don’t really want to’. (Dad, honestly, it’s not about you. At least, this time it isn’t).

I’m avoiding the inlaws (H’s lot) because I can’t deal with their inability to deal with my miscarriages. I’m not sure why H is avoiding his lot. I’m not sure H is sure.

So, our plan this year, like last year, is to spend the day in our pyjamas, eating our faces off and getting quite tipsy and watching the Dr Who Christmas Special in absolute peace. It’s the least we deserve.

We finished Pikaia’s candle at last, so this evening we lit a bright new one, not just for our losses, but also for Illanare’s, tonight of all nights, and for everyone who is finding Christmas a bit of an arse, really, given the relentless emphasis on babies and children and family wonderfulness and togetherness and sweeping miserable and sad things under the carpets and then decorating the resultant mound with tinsel.

Last year, I wished I could be pregnant for Christmas. I was, even though I didn’t know it for a few more days. This year, forwarned, I carefully did not wish to be pregnant for Christmas. So I’m not. Oh, ha bloody ha, Universe.

To freak or not to freak

Eh, beloved internets, I am still bleeding. Not heavily, or I totally wouldn’t be talking to you now because I’d be at the EPU with a wand-monkey in a head-lock until he/she promised to fetch a phlebotomist to check my HCG the very second she’d finished the scan.

And I’m not cramping either. Very very very vague dull not-quite-ache that comes and goes (if I felt properly crampy, again, I’d be in the EPU haranguing the staff).

But there it is. Red blood. Again. Every day it tails off and I think it has stopped, every day there it is again the next morning.

It’s day nine of this bleeding crap now. Keeping in mind when I have a period I only bleed red for five to seven days (I do sometimes spot for a few more days after that, but it’s only ever brown spotting. This is an adenomyosis thing, google tells me). Keeping in mind that I started bleeding pretty much the day after I’d’ve expected my period to start had I not been pregnant.

So. I should be worried? I should relax already? I should stop bothering you lot and go speak to a medical professional?

The next person who tells me chemical pregnancies/very early miscarriages are ‘just like a period, really’ will be beaten to a pulp with the nearest blunt object.

Residual issues

I did not go to the EPU this morning.

I very badly did not want to go. The one with the walk-in clinic the GP wanted me to go to is the one I attended when I lost Pikaia, and it was horrible. The waiting room is full of happy families all there for the 20-week anatomy scan. The secretarial staff are breath-takingly rude. The doctor who did that scan got shirty with me for weeping and being unable to discuss whether I wanted a D&C or not less than three minutes after she’d told me my precious, precious baby was dead. When we went back for the D&C, they put us back in that same waiting-room. I had to fill out the paperwork with the nurse right there in that fucking crowded waiting-room, surrounded by pregnant women and their excited kids, partners, grand-parents etc., facing a TV-screen showing adverts and infomercials for breast-feeding and nappies. The D&C gave me a severe and excruciatingly painful infection and landed me back in hospital a few days later. That sucked too. At one point, dirty, sweaty, wearing only a short hospital gown, having spent days vomiting and in agony in a hospital bed, they wheeled me down to that exact same waiting-room and left me there for nearly an hour to wait for yet another follow-up scan, while small scared children stared at me wide-eyed asked their enormously rounded mothers ‘what’s the matter with that lady?’ and their mothers backed away from me in horror.

I am not going back to that EPU unless they wheel me through it unconscious.

Before you all fret, I discussed it at length with H, and we decided that if I was still bleeding red or in the least bit crampy this morning, I would phone the nice, gentle, thoughtful EPU at Mothership Hospital, who saw me through the loss of Flash and Zombryo, and ask them to look after me.

Lo and behold, today I am merely spotting heavily, and not cramping even a little bit.

If anything bothers me at all at all, I will phone the EPU I like. At the EPU I like, the general maternity clinic is right the other side of the hospital from it. The waiting rooms are small, and there are several of them, so the nurses can put you somewhere more private if you’re upset. Your paperwork is done in an office, with the door shut. The ward, should you need to be admitted, is just around the corner rather than several floors and corridors away. The receptionist is kind and efficient. The medical staff are patient and gentle.

I feel fine, now, anyway.

(No I don’t. I feel angry and sad and bitter and miserable and frustrated and very, very, very tired of this).

Spartan fail

We didn’t go to the In-Laws for the weekend after all. It snowed instead. Trains were delayed, sometimes by hours, or cancelled altogether. The In-Laws got snowed in completely and couldn’t even drive the mile-or-so to the nearest supermarket, let alone all the way to collect us from the probably non-existant train.

(Britain is on the same latitude as Canada, Alaska, Norway, Russia, that sort of place. We’re north of New York by several hundred miles. Because of the Gulf Stream, we usually have oddly mild and damp winters. Last year we had one that was more, eh, latitude-appropriate, and the entire country fell apart for weeks. This year we’re having another latitude-appropriate one, and the country has fallen apart for weeks again. I throw up my hands).

Instead, we went to a matinee. I felt fine, you see. Well, not fine. More, off my face on opiates, NSAIDs, lack of sleep and the relief of not being in amazing amounts of sodding pain. I had been looking forward to going to this matinee for weeks and weeks. I was GOING TO THE MATINEE. There was a spare ticket going for the evening performance after it, so I went to that as well. Fuck it. I was with a good friend (H declined to cough up for the evening performance and went home to teleconference with his father on the new software he’d given his father for Christmahanukwanzaa). I felt fine already. Stop fussing. Why yes, I sat in this very theatre two and a half years ago as I was miscarrying Pikaia, and oh, I certainly did go to another theatre when I was losing Zombryo as well. I sense a motif. And why should my other embryos have all the fun? And I got home safe despite the snow, and I had something interesting to think about other than the blasted heath that is my uterus. All good.

On Sunday, I very nearly passed out cold in the middle of the kitchen floor. Hm.

Today, I went back to the GP, to discuss how much time, actually, I’d need off work and when I should go back. This GP, who I think I’ve seen once or twice before, was concerned that I am still bleeding (should he be? I mean, I only started bleeding on Wednesday, that is, six days) and sore (well, I wasn’t that sore over the weekend. Am feeling more crampy today, which I was putting down to not having had any painkillers for over 24 hours). I was a bit startled. I was there to discuss my mental stamina. The miscarriage itself was, well, it was… well. You know what my periods are like. I bled a bit more this time. I threw up a lot more. Other than that… So I was non-plussed that he was bothered about it. He asked more questions. I let him know I was very tired, and having dizzy spells, and this definitely bothered him. He prodded my abdomen, took my blood-pressure and my temperature, noted I was pale and my hands were freezing (uh, doc, it’s snowing outside?), and declared that I really should, really really should, go to the Early Pregnancy Unit tomorrow at dawn and get a scan. I looked at him as if he’d suggested I climb Everest in my knickers. I pointed out that I had been barely four weeks pregnant. Nevertheless, he said, there could be something retained in the uterus. Or I could have an infection (WTF?). I should get a scan. And not go back to work this week.

When I got home from this medical disconcertment I was bleeding merrily and passing clots again.

So much for being stoical.

I can’t think in a straight line

Item – Re: The Professor’s clinic not taking an HCG blood test. Well, I’ve been reading her book, and by and large she doesn’t tend to take them, as it doesn’t change the protocol in how she deals with her patients (unless there’s a suspected ectopic or similar issue going on). As for me, I’d’ve been perfectly fine with that, as long as it was discussed with me before-hand and I understood what was going on and why. In this case, chemical pregnancy, over in days, I can actually see there was no point, and when I presented at her clinic, there was no point then either, because the main thing was to make sure my blood wasn’t turning to glue. The non-discussion was in part my fault, because I was so freaked out by being pregnant at all, with that horrible doomy feeling of ‘this is going tits-up any second now’ (how I hate being right all the time) going CLANG CLANG CLANG in my head non-stop, that I sat in The Professor’s office like a bunny in the headlights and looked at her mutely and imploringly and didn’t say anything clever at all, or, indeed, anything daft at all. How was she to know what my expectations were? How was she to know I a) had any and b) am a control-freak who deals by knowing shit? Next time, I write it all down the night before. This has always been the best plan (damn that pregnancy brain, eh? Ha ha ha ha).

Item – January 4th isn’t that far away. We shall discuss luteal phases and progesterone issues and LH levels and whether we should just give the fuck up already with The Professor then.

Item – Chemical pregnancies, when you’ve had a couple already, and several other more ‘official’ miscarriages, and when you’ve been trying to have a child for five years, and when every single thing you try ends in blood and puking and disaster, tear your heart to bits in frustration and sorrow. Even if you never get a chance, or let yourself have a chance, to get attached to the idea of this embryo as a baby, a child, a teenager, an adult.

Item – Its due-date was the 25th of August 2011. My charting software told me. And now that I know, I can’t un-know, just as I can’t un-know the 16th of January 2009, the 3rd of July 2010, and the 14th of September 2010. At least I don’t know the due dates of the two Schr√∂dingers, eh? Because that would be obsessive. Poor little Schr√∂dingers.

Item – We saw Orpheus in the Underworld the evening we conceived this last embryo. I can’t help but think of it as Eurydice. We went on a mission to save it from death, consulting the gods of recurrent miscarriage and everything, making blood and money sacrifices, and yet, somehow, we failed, we looked behind us at the wrong moment, and Eurydice slipped back into the dark.

Item – The puking bleedathon diet of the past three days has lost me another three pounds, and I am now, at last, officially at IVF weight, also known as Not-Obese weight, also also known as the weight at which my weight should not be screwing with my pregnancies. 2010 Forced March Shrinkathon has actually succeeded (probably briefly. It’s Christmas next week). The sheer eye-watering irony of this has unhinged me completely. And chocolate still tastes foul (see?).

Item – The thing about physical pain, if it’s bad enough, is that it stops you really being aware of your emotions. I feel so much better today. I feel so much sadder. And bitter. Oh, I do feel so very, very bitter.

Item – When I was clearing away the several pee-sticks of this cycle, even the vanishing-line out-of-date ones now had visible, if pathetically faint, second lines. Huh. Thanks for that.

Item – We’re going down to see H’s family for the weekend. They don’t know I’ve just lost another of their grandkids (so careless). I don’t think we plan to tell them. It’s very close to the anniversaries of the tragic and untimely deaths of a couple of H’s relatives, and it’s a bittersweet time of year for his clan. It seems somewhat brutal to add to that. On the other hand, I will still be physically weak (and completely miserably constipated by all the codeine) and in a Bad Place mentally, and H isn’t well either, and H is also very sad, and, dear Readers, it’s going to be so hard.