Fog of Grief

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Marina Fogle recently described her grief following the loss of her baby boy last summer. At 33 weeks, she suffered an acute placental abruption where her placenta detached from her uterus starving the baby of oxygen and causing a life-threatening haemorrhage.

The following quotes show the process of coping with the horrendous grief she faced. She says:

“Until that point I had had very little experience of profound sadness. Shocked to the point of numbness, I have since felt myriad emotions.”

“Crying, when it comes, is crucial, it’s a natural release. I frequently have a really good sob; it’s very physical: it is like feeling nauseous and knowing instinctively that you will feel better if you let yourself be sick. I believe that crying provides me with the release to expel my sadness so that I’m equipped to relish what is good in my life.”

“Grief is exhausting. You’ll find you need much more sleep than you used to. It can also affect your brain, your ability to remember things and to concentrate. This perplexed me so much that I worried for a time that my extreme blood loss had resulted in some brain damage. It was reassuring to know that it is normal and will slowly improve. I warned those around me that if I was forgetful, distracted or absent-minded, to forgive me.”

“This is a time to spoil yourself: book a holiday, get your hair done, lose yourself in a box set – and if you feel like eating ice-cream for breakfast, do it. It won’t make everything all right, but lots of little boosts will help you feel more human.”

“Don’t be afraid to talk about what has happened to you. At the beginning it was hard, but now I know that each time you talk about it, you will adjust a degree emotionally. You will never ”get over’’ your loss, but slowly you will come to terms with what is your new normal.”

“On August 24 my world shifted on its axis and I’m gradually accepting that, in one part of my life, I’m extraordinarily lucky, with a loving husband, Ben, two perfect children Ludo, and Iona, 3, and the most wonderful family and friends. But in another part, we’ve been catastrophically unlucky. No one could have predicted the sudden death of our son and the events that ensued; it was sheer bad luck. These two dichotomies don’t balance each other, creating a kind of ”OK’’ equilibrium; they coexist in their extreme forms.”

Wise words from a brave and courageous woman. Let’s hope there are happier times ahead for all those battling grief and loss.

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Time For Action

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I am reluctant to accept that a baby is coming. I just won’t believe it until I have a healthy baby safe in my arms. Recently people have kindly urged me to pull myself out of my denial for a moment and order some baby stuff. I always said I wouldn’t order a thing prior to the babies arrival but in a moment of insanity/sanity my husband and I went out and ordered everything! Cots, prams, baths, car seats and so much more. None of it arrives until week 36 weeks so I don’t need to deal with a flat full of stuff for 3 more weeks. However next weekend my husband is going to wallpaper the nursery. The whole thing is pretty terrifying.

It just feels as though I will soon wake from this dream and there will be nothing. No baby. Just a fantasy I indulged in.

The Real Cost of Infertility

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This week, at the fourth and final session of the Progress Educational Trust’s annual conference Professor Lord Robert Winston did not shy away from controversial infertility topics. His talk looked at infertility’s true costs – to society, to families and to women.

He talked about the infertility experience – how it affects individuals and couples, not only medically and physically, but emotionally and in terms of relationships.

Infertility, he said, is misunderstood by the health service – it is seen as a disease that needs treatment. Doctors in other specialties view the infertility procedure as bizarre – no-one reaches straight for coronary surgery when there’s a pain in the chest, he said, as that can be caused by many things. However, when someone can’t have children, the treatment is IVF. Most of the time, he says, there is no serious attempt to make a clear diagnosis of the problem – and this can leave patients ’empty-handed’, both in terms of their finances and their chance of having a child. In what he called a ‘chronic problem’, one of the worst aspects of the health service, which he views as ‘incredibly badly run, for a long time’ is the ‘maternity market’.

He also estimated that IVF cycles could be provided for less than £1,000: ‘IVF should not cost the kind of money that is currently being spent’. Where are the regulators in all this, he asked? He went on to describe it as a ‘bleak picture of poor diagnosis, misdiagnosis and selling of uncharted treatment’.

When asked about clinics in the UK who have partnerships with clinics overseas Lord Winston said it can’t be regulated and neither can other treatments which patients go overseas to get because they are not legal here. He mentioned the Fertility Show, held in November in London, where stands advertised things such as sex selection, not available here. He also pointed out that overseas clinics can advertise on the London Underground things that if they were UK practitioners would be illegal and have them struck off the medical register. These ‘loopholes’ are dangerous, he said, and he believes the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority should intervene.

None of this is new but it shows that the world of infertility is not well regulated and the true cost on patients is immeasurable. What do you think?

A Happy Ending

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The model and actress, Jamie King, 35, went public about her own struggles conceiving her first child, and how she wishes the landscape was different for women. Jaime, who had five miscarriages, was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition that affects female sex hormones and fertility. Therefore she needed help starting a family.

“I was hiding what I was going through for so long, and I hear about so many women going through what I went through. If I’m open about it, hopefully it won’t be so taboo to talk about it.”

Jaime went through five rounds of IVF and 26 rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI) before she was finally given good news — she had conceived naturally with her husband Kyle Newman.

“When I got pregnant, it was the best thing in the whole world. I had never felt so grateful, happy and elated,” Jaime recalled.

After 26 hours of labor, Jaime gave birth to son James Knight in October 2013. Even though she had waited years for a child, she admitted she didn’t have that “angels singing moment” right after. The blonde beauty also said that motherhood was oftentimes hard, especially as she suffered from postpartum depression. It took some time, but now Jaime has found her balance and is loving every bit of motherhood. She hopes to expand her family even further one day but says:

“I don’t know what the future holds. All I know is I can’t control it, and I’m okay with that.”

1 Year

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My last pregnancy lasted 21 weeks. This one has been 31 weeks (so far). So I have now been pregnant in total for a whole year, with, as of yet, nothing to show for it. So when I say I am eager for this baby to arrive I really, really mean it! The pregnancy has been filled with plenty of stress, anxiety and fears and they will not end until I have a healthy baby in my arms. So time, please hurry the hell up!

Ice Ice Baby

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According to yesterday’s Evening Standard egg-freezing parties are all the rage! Just like the Tupperware party, this party features wine, canapés and a discount on anything you buy. But what you’re shelling out for, is oocyte cryopreservation — AKA a batch of frozen eggs.

In the US these soirées were designed for women seeking advice on fertility and delaying motherhood. London’s fertility experts say egg-freezing parties could be on the horizon too. This option, originally available for cancer patients, could become more widely practised.

Either way couples are reminded to consider how their career choices will impact on their fertility and realise egg-freezing does not guarantee a baby. By 30, women have already lost around 90 per cent of their eggs, and women who grew up in a household of smokers can go through the menopause up to eight years earlier than those who did not. Only 20 babies had been born in the UK after treatment using patients’ own frozen eggs by the start of 2013, according to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the UK’s independent regulator of the use of embryos, although around 18,000 eggs have been stored in the UK for patients’ own use. The odds aren’t good. But choice is, and I hope women who attend allow egg-freezing parties will receive valuable information which helps them to understand their fertility better.

Eat, Read, Sleep

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I have just returned from a lovely week of doing absolutely nothing! Nilch. Nada.

We disappeared to Cyprus for a week where we stayed at a lovely hotel and basically did sweet FA. Long breakfasts, reading in the sunshine, more eating, afternoon naps, spa treatments and a lot of Jack Bauer! It was exactly what we needed and certainly the most relaxed I have felt throughout the pregnancy.

Tomorrow we are at 30 weeks, and boy am I growing big! My tummy has really popped. With it comes some discomfort, however I just remind myself how lucky I am to be in this position at all. My husband bears the brunt of any complaints and has been generously providing back rubs.

So it’s back to work today and that well and truly ends the blissful relaxation. Back to reality.