Category Archives: Pikaia

Because I am tired (NBHHY)

Item – H and I spent Sunday on an outing with my dear Mama, eating an enormous lunch and having a charming walk and visiting an exhibition and filling head with Art. I also took the occasion (‘Darling, why didn’t you come abroad with us last month? We had a lovely time! H would have adored it!’ … ‘Well, errm, since you ask….’) to inform dear Mama of the fact her eldest daughter (c’est moi) was In An Interesting Condition, thanks to the Wonders of Science.

Item – Mum was marvellous about it. She was so pleased, but instantly made a massive effort to control herself and stated that she would try not to think about it all, because it was all so new and tenuous, and then stroked my hand, and asked a few questions about the IVF process and the chromosomal testing, swore herself promptly to secrecy until we give her the go-ahead to Spread Glad Tidings, and then we had a brief discussion about Morning Sickness We Have Known and how very much she hated certain vegetables during her last pregnancy, and then we went off and looked at the Art. And that was that.

Item – I was so tired when we got home I went to bed at 9:30pm.

Item – And then I got up for a wee at 3:30am and couldn’t get back to sleep. It’s one thing having 1st Trimester knackerment. It does not combine well with insomnia and my sodding bladder. I was a yawning dribbling pointless distracted lump at work today. My boss is being nice to me about it. Oh God.

Item – In today’s post, a bundle of letters and leaflets from the local maternity services, full of ante-natal appointments and screening dates and advice on giving up smoking. I promptly sat down on the stairs and cried. It’s all getting so very very unavoidably real even if something does go wrong. I am completely overwhelmed.

Item – Remind me to tell you about the local maternity services soon. They’re run from the same hospital that treated me (so very shabbily) when I lost Pikaia, and where I refused to go back to for any subsequent miscarriages. I am having anxiety dreams about going back there. Gah. Must stop talking about it now or I will never sleep again.

Item – My main issues with having put on nearly half-a-stone already less to do with ‘looking fat’ (I am fat), and more to do with a) being judged and scolded for gaining too much weight by medical practitioners, and b) looking obviously pregnant to people I have no intention or desire to discuss my gestational status with, now or indeed ever. And some of the people I am thinking of are extremely rude nosy and boundary-impaired twatweasels, and others are misogynistic creeps. So. Oh the joy of the large workplace, that has such a mix of people in it.

Item – Bed!

Terror. Terror is a thing (NBHHY)

Yesterday, I was paddling about on Twitter, seeing if anyone had said anything amusing lately, in a fairly serene and optimistic mood (I know. Optimism. Who’d’a thunk it?). And instead I saw the news of an eight-week scan gone tragically wrong – no heartbeat, no baby after all.

Yes. That can happen. It happened to me, once. Seeing that forlorn tweet was like falling through a trap-door. I was overwhelmed with sorrow for the woman who posted it, and empathy, and for a few minutes I could only think of her sadness and remember how bereft I had felt when Pikaia turned out to be blighted after all.

And then, of course, I panicked on my own behalf.

It’s over a week until my scan. I am five weeks and four days pregnant right now (by that slightly daft reckoning that assumes pregnancy a) begins on the first day of your period and b) your cycle is always exactly 28 days. This embryo was actually conceived three weeks and four days ago). If I had a scan now, it’d be inconclusive at best, as my embryo and his/her entire playpen are still too small to visualise as more than a tiny circle, a few millimetres across, the heart, even if it is there, too small to see beating. And I have no worrying symptoms at all. The cramps that bothered me last week have mostly naffed off, unless I walk a lot, and then they go away when I sit down and have a drink. I feel sick in the evenings. My breasts hurt. I get light-headed easily. I am not spotting at all. I, a life-long night-owl and midnight-oil-burner, am ready to clamber into bed at 10pm sharp. Nothing Bad Has Happened Yet.

And I am absolutely paralytic with anxiety.

The baby will not die because I rejoiced in its existence.

The baby will not live because I panicked and fretted and grieved over it.

I must keep telling myself that. And keep taking the medications. And wait.

A certain place of tiredness

Item – I now have four peesticks lined up on the bathroom windowsill, each one with the second line a shade more marked and obvious than the last. You have to squint at the one I took on Tuesday morning. This morning’s? It’s still faint, but you can see it feet away. I don’t think even Bitter McTwisted can argue that they’re all faulty (all three different brands), but occasionally she tries.

Item – we have a fancy digital peestick for tomorrow’s Official And We Phone The Clinic test. I’ve never used a fancy digital one before.

Item – The spotting from Tuesday has not reoccurred. I concluded that it probably was caused by the progesterone pessaries and went aft instead, effectively converting them into suppositories, ho ho. And so now I have a sore sensation in my back passage as well. I’m buggered either way (ho ho ho). Another eight weeks of this I am to hope for. Huh.

Item – I was not only bloated and miserable, but viciously crampy last night. Cute Ute felt hard and heavy and somehow full of corners. The funny thing is, she used to feel like this when I was pregnant with Pikaia. It’s eerie. (For newcomers to the blog, Pikaia was my first pregnancy, five years ago, and the one I got furthest along with before she was revealed to be a blighted ovum, poor little sod, who had no intention of going anywhere on her own and had to be surgically removed. Which turned into a shitstorm. Yay memories!). I lay down and drank Gatorade and water, and it didn’t help much, and I had a bloody miserable night with no sleep, bonus rainstorm at 2am, and a snoring husband (I will staple his bottom lip to his nose, so help me). This morning, I had the runs. OH JOY. Which of the many drugs, hormones, or excess heat coursing through me caused that, eh? So I stayed at home. And stared vaguely into space a lot. And now I have cramps again. Are the cramps just going to be A Thing every evening?

Item – Oh! A fun thing! DrSpouse was in town yesterday, and we had a quick lunch together, sitting in the shade on a bench. That was nice.

Item – H and I are being very… restrained… in our expressions of jubilation. In our feelings of jubilation. Because history. We just sit about having occasional sensible discussions about scheduling scans and whether I’ve drunk enough water today. We have yet to tell family on either side, for example. We haven’t had that discussion yet.

Item – I am probably going to have to tell work in the next few days, because I will be scheduling eight trillion pregnancy-related doctors’ appointments and per law, if it’s pregnancy related, you get paid time off to attend. It feels weird, wrong and stupid to tell work before I tell my parents, but I am a snowflake and everything in my reproductive history is weird, wrong and stupid, so fuck it. Also, if this goes wrong (ohpleasepleasepleaseno) I am taking the rest of the Summer off and damn the consequences, only, consequences may well be slightly less damnable if work has an inkling why I have lost my tiny mind and fucked off into the outer blue yonder.

Item – My Dad has had some awkward news about his health, and has been read the Riot Act about his drinking and smoking. Total abstinence may save his life. He has announced that he will now try total abstinence, and I feel wry, sad, and cynical about it all. Because history. Having his sesame-seed-sized grandchild on board adds a rather gloomy flavour of poignancy and regret. Will this one get to play with Grandpapa? Will Grandpapa get to play with it?

Item – And there are several dear people out there who are not pregnant now. And we would’ve been pregnant together. And it’s so sad. So endlessly, hugely sad.

On it not being Mothers’ Day

Five years ago, pretty exactly, we were here. And it was such a beautiful place to be.

Whereas we spent this afternoon going through all the paperwork from all our medical tests and procedures, making sure we had a full set of all the relevant results for H to sneak into work and photocopy tomorrow, for the benefit of the Riverside Clinic. And this is not a beautiful place to be. Not at all. Five years, and all we have to show for it is an inch-thick stack of doctors’ letters.

I have friends who can talk of nothing else but whether or not their four-year-olds did or did not get into their primary school of choice, and how silly and expensive the uniforms are. And I am not able to join in. And I should, I really really should, be joining in.

And then, of course, there’s the Trial-By-Drive-By-Mother’s-Day. It is not Mother’s Day in the UK. We did that in March. I’m not sure I need all my favourite social media to be plastered with variations of ‘honk if you love motherhood!’. Nevertheless, I am clearly wrong and making a private gesture of affection to, well, your own mother, is inadequate and the only way to prove you love her and love being a mother (hurrah for you) is to post passive-aggressive self-aggrandising horse-wallops about it on all the internets. Because if you just send the poor woman flowers, who’s gonna know. And if you accidentally grind broken glass into the hearts of everyone who has lost their mother, or never had a mother, or was abused by their mother, or who can’t be a mother, so what, eh? Serves them right for not being normative.

(No, really, there are people on the internet who think that if you’re not a mother, you’re not even a woman, and nothing you are doing could possibly be as worth-while as raising children, and you know nothing about love and self-sacrifice, you selfish selfish party-hopping waster. I think they might have a hard time selling that one to Mother Theresa or Susan B. Anthony or Emily Dickinson or Queen Elizabeth I or Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell or Amelia Earhart or… you get my point, I hope. *Flail-hands*)

Anyway. This post is brought to you by Bitter McTwisted The Angry Infertile and Not Enough Tequila.

So, H and I sorted through the letters, and I had a panic attack (whyever not?) and H had a moment of ‘not listening! Am made of teflon!’ which neatly derailed the panic attack because I had to stop and shout at him, and then we had a prolonged and weepy conversation about how fucked up my family was for a change, and then my mother rang to offer me moral support and millions of pounds to do this possible IVF also three nights in a health spa if I liked or possibly craniosacral therapy because that is the new acupuncture, and I felt like an idiot. And then we went through the letters properly and with tears in our eyes because, actually, this recurrent miscarriage business is really, really, really fucking horrible.

And, possibly in self-defence, I find I keep losing track of how many miscarriages I’ve actually had, and when. Things I was so sure I’d never do. Surely each and every one was burnt into my brain forever. Surely. And now I must go back through my blog and my diary and my inch-thick stack of letters, and count them all.

Christmas makes everything twice as sad*

I am spending a second day at home in front of the telly, because I feel very sick and Cute Ute the Despoiler is making a horrible fuss (Stupid uterus. I dislike her intensely. The feeling is clearly mutual). Shark Week began today, so I hope (but by no means expect, damn it) that therefore I’ll be feeling less-than-dead by Saturday and will be able to sit upright on my pew at this blazin’ wedding.

I’ve done two loads of laundry and cleaned a lavatory. It’s not all been Criminal Minds marathons and hot-water-bottles. Alas.

H and I are trying to be festive. We bought a very (very very) small Christmas tree. We put up some decorations – snow-flakes, a wreath, a couple of reindeer. My dear friend korechronicles sent me a Christmas ornament a couple of years ago, which we hung on the bookshelf. I have some handpainted wooden stars as well I need to find a place for – we can’t hang anything on the tree, because you see, my tree is tiny, and so wee, that I sometimes think the pixies gave it to me**, and it would topple over. I received my first Christmas present – you know who you are, you and your classy classy gift-giving – so I opened it for Hanukkah, and am thrilled to absolute bits.

This year, we are going to H’s family for Christmas, because we feel they need us the most (My family is going skiing. Again. They keep asking us to come, but neither H nor I can ski, and the idea of being stuck with my sisters for a week in a country where I don’t speak the language and can’t just run screaming into the mountains in my nightie for fear of Death-By-Snowdrift, does not appeal). At least I won’t have my period (see last year. That was fun).

However to make up for my NOT having my period over Christmas at the ‘rents or in-laws, the In-Laws are coming to us. Tomorrow. So I can still have my period at them. HAH.

And I keep bursting into tears. I wanted to be pregnant. I haven’t been pregnant for so, so long, I am absolutely terrified that All Is Wrong in there and I can’t ever get pregnant again. I’ve had my lot, and they were all duds, and that is that.

Oh, and there’s the tiny question of Christmas, Season of Doom, in that I’ve had two miscarriages over the festive season, and it sucks. The media are doing wall-to-wall baby stories and family stories and babies and families stories and mothers and more babies and every radio is blaring out songs about the wonderful birth of a special baby and people send you cards with pictures of tiny shiny babies on them and Christmas is all about the kiddies, innit? And you don’t know the meaning of love or family until you’ve given birth, allegedly. Why not flay me and roll me in rimming salt while you’re at it?

Pikaia, my first poor little doomed embryo, would be nearly four this Christmas, if she’d actually grown a spine as her nickname suggested she should and lived. Have you seen a nearly-four-year-old in the run-up to Christmas? She’d be so excited you could power a small cathedral city off her for a week. And now she is nearly four, I have so many, many ideas for beloved books and adorable toys for her. I do, I really do, find myself looking at toys shop windows and thinking ‘Would Pikaia have liked that? I hope she would’ve liked that. It’s very cool.’ Or I look at books and think about reading it to Pikaia. And then I have to stop that right now and go and look at a book on astrophysics or baking, because grown women weeping over Dr Seuss are frankly unnerving.

Poor Pikaia. Of all our losses, she’s the one who really haunts me. She’s the only one I ever imagined (however briefly) as a living child, you see (too scarred/scared to do anything of the sort after her). She follows me about like a little ghost, slowly growing up as I grow older. I can see me in my late 50s being haunted by a red-haired university student who keeps forgetting to call home. But for the moment, she’s nearly four. She has fiery copper hair. She loves books and making things and drawing and music. She has a doll or teddy she adores beyond words. She has unusually small hands and feet, because her parents do, and is tall for her age, because her parents were. She is precocious and worryingly articulate, like me, and a little song-bird, like H. I don’t know if she’d be prone to brief but terrifying ferocious outbreaks of temper followed by tears like me, or pouting and sulking like H. I wish I did know. I miss her so much.

And I know I’m not the only one to have a ghost-child. Melissa wrote movingly about hers here (and it touched me particularly because I know that city so well, and can picture it). And then everyone chimed in in the comments, and I thought, see? I’m not mad. We’re not mad. Not mad at all.

* Douglas Copeland.
** Waitrose, actually.

Hence migraine

I am at home, again, today. I woke up feeling bizarrely cranky and unfocused, and monosyllabic, which anyone who has met me (or, hey, has read this blog) will tell you is uncharacteristic. Clumsily, I staggered off to the station, thinking ‘bloody hell, the sunlight is bright this morning. Really bright. This can’t be normal for October’.

Yes, well, you’re all sharper than me, so you won’t be surprised to hear that the next thing to happen was a scintillating scotoma eating the woman next to me’s head.

So I went home again, got H to ring work for me (bless the man) and put my head under the pillows for a few hours.

Bugger migraines. Bugger them to hell.

H, being ‘wise after the fact’, pointed out it’s 1) that time of the month for me, 2) I’ve been sleeping badly and 3) I’ve been stressed which = migraine. To which all I could groan was ‘you could’ve said’, to which he hinted I could’ve said, as I was the one behaving like an aphasic cassowary this morning, to which I implied that being an aphasic cassowary, I wasn’t in the best condition to judge my own state of neurological activity, at which point H wisely kissed my eyebrow and crept off to work.

Yesterday was International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. H was, well, I shall say out at his club, because it amuses me to do so, though no doubt he will give me the stink-eye when he reads this (he was at rehearsal. He’s proper talented, you know). So I said I’d be home by 7pm to light a candle, or several, to commemorate our poor little sods of embryos and your losses too, Gentle Readers. And H said he’d text me at 7 to let me know he was thinking appropriate thoughts. So that was the plan.

I admit I was feeling sulky about it. Not because H wouldn’t be there, but because I have been lighting candles for years now and I am very very sick of this twilight, bruised existance as neither mother nor not-mother. I currently am in a Denial Place about it all. I don’t want to think about it very often and I certainly don’t want to dwell on how much it hurts. I don’t want to be Infertile anymore and I don’t want to be bound on this wheel of torment anymore. So, no, I was not being pleased about the idea of lighting candles and focusing on loss and grief. I was going to do it anyway, out of solidarity, and because being in The Denial Place is just one of those places you wander in and out of for the rest of your life when a Bad Sad Thing happens, along with the Acceptance Place, the Raging Place, the Shan’t Get Out of Bed Place, the Reasonably Happy Place, and the Place of Lamentations (I doubt I’ll be here for very long, and I’m spending longer and longer in Acceptance and Reasonably Happy, fash not yerselves), and I didn’t want to face me in a few weeks time when I am visiting Rage or Lamentations, shrieking ‘and you didn’t even light a candle on the 15th and throwing plates. So I noted the location of the matches before I left for work.

Work, however, had a sneaky bastard trick to play. A couple of colleagues didn’t turn up, so I cheerfully (oh, hey, I wasn’t in a hurry) volunteered to hang on for another ten minutes so as not to leave my other colleagues in the total screaming chaos lurch. The manager who was supposed to be finding out what had happened to the next shift, didn’t. The other manager simply sodded off home without waiting to see if their staff had turned up. I ended up staying on an extra 40 minutes, hot and flustered. When H texted me something sweet and moving about Pikaia and our other benighted embryos, I was still on a (very packed, slow-moving) train. I felt angst. Much angst, with added pissed off.

So in the end I lit our candles at about 7:30. Then I ate cheese and rice-cakes. Then I blew the candles back out, went to the cinema on my own, and watched Looper (which wasn’t half bad, or, at least, Jeff Bridges wasn’t half bad, and the plot was fascinating, and Bruce Willis, as ever, was about as interesting to watch as a lump of silly putty, but, like silly putty, can be squashed into the correct shape for purpose and isn’t actually offensive or irritating).

And I had bad dreams.

Diamonds and rust

Hello, and welcome to all you interesting and lovely people who did me the honour of reading the last post, the ranty one, showering me with compliments, and are now hanging about to see what I’m going to do next. I have no idea what I’m going to do next. I now feel a tad fraudulent – you do know this blog is mostly me whining about doctor’s appointments and just how horribly bad I am at menstruating, right? Sorry. *gnaws nails*

Or freaking out. There’s always me freaking out.

H and I took a few days off work. I won’t use the phrase ‘staycation’, because ‘staycation’ sounds like Day Camp for vampire slayers. But that. The problem with being at home with nothing to do except relax and enjoy yourselves leads to such behaviour as Visiting Ikea And Buying Storage Bins, which leads to Sorting Out The Knitting Stash, which leads to H laughing at me as I shriek: ‘How do I have this much yarn? I don’t even remember buying this? What is this? I have 45 litres of SOCK YARN! How am I ever going to knit all this? What was I thinking?’

And then you find the half-finished and abandoned knitting projects. I knew it would be in there somewhere, along with the scarf that came out too small, and the sock-I-can’t-be-arsed-to-knit-a-friend-for, and the half-a-pullover I’ve been havering about the neckline for.

It is most of a Shetland lace baby shawl, in very fine white wool, knitted on tiny needles. The sort of lace cloud a new-born is wrapped in for the home-from-hospital pictures, or for a Christening. It’s patterned with diamonds and trees-of-life and rose-buds, all chosen for their charming symbolism. I remember casting it on way back when H and I were still merely infertile, and, indeed, when I was still under the impression that as soon as we’d removed my uterine polyps and convinced Satsuma to just let an egg go once in a bloody while, I’d get pregnant. And, of course, carry the baby to term. Why shouldn’t I? I come from a Revoltingly Fertile Family. Carrying babies to term, through Hell or high water, is what we do. Or, what they do. I didn’t yet know I wasn’t one of them.

Of course, just about when I had nearly finished the body of the shawl and was trying to work out the maths (I am proper discalculic. Ask H. So this part was taking weeks) for the edging, I did get pregnant. And miscarried. And I didn’t have the heart to keep knitting. I told myself I’d get it out and finish it for the next baby. OK, for the one after that. Maybe for the third one. Damn it, not the third one. And since then I haven’t been able to face even looking at it. I think I have since once angrily announced I’d finish it if I ever got past the 12th week. And then I could use it as a fucking shroud, if necessary, because then there’d be something to bury.

Because you, oh Gentle Readers, are wise, and because all the above might have given you a clue that Not All Is Well chez the Psyche of May, you will be considerably less surprised than I was to discover that when I did unearth the shawl as I entirely expected to do this afternoon, still on the needles, still unfinished, I burst into tears. I flung myself into H’s arms and sobbed and sobbed.

‘What is it, darling?’ he asked, concerned, ‘A lace shawl? Oh, sweetheart, have the moths got it? No? What is it?’

‘It’s so beautiful,’ I choked out, ‘and it was for our first baby…’ and then I got snot on his shoulder (‘Dignity’ is my middle name. My first is ‘Lack of’).

Gentle Readers, this thing is beautiful. And so nearly finished. It breaks my heart.

H thinks I should just finish it. Partly because he’s feeling vaguely hopeful again these days, bless the dear eejit, and partly, well, because, did I mention it’s beautiful?

I could always auction it for a suitable charity, I suppose. If I can convince anyone to pay hundreds of pounds for it. I couldn’t let it go for less than hundreds of pounds, not even for the most excellent of causes. It has, after all, already cost me an infinity of grief.