Here We Go Again!

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Never would we have imagined that the journey to motherhood was going to be so long and painful. However once we knew the challenges we faced and that we would only be able to have a child using IVF we decided that after baby number 1 was born we wouldn’t wait too long to have baby number 2.

When we decided to try for a baby the first time we were full of naive excitement and total ignorance. We never thought we would be the ones who needed fertility treatment or lost a baby. The benefit of hindsight means that we are fully aware of the potential set backs that lay ahead. We know it may take a long time and it may be a bumpy ride so why wait when we know we want another child?

While I was pregnant with our little boy we decided that as soon as there was the chance to try again we would. We would save our frozen embryo for the future and, while I was relatively young, make some more embryos. That was the plan. That seemed like the most sensible idea. Once my body had returned to normal we thought we’d get going on IVF number 2. All of that was until our little bundle of joy arrived and turned our lives spectacularly upside down! So when the opportunity to try again came while our baby was still such hard work we took one look at each other and agreed that in no way were we ready to cope with two little monsters! We were exhausted and our little baby was a complete handful. In many ways he still is!

So when asked by friends and family when we would try again we quite honestly said next year. However we now have got to the point where we feel like (relatively) confident parents who have, to some degree, begun to resume normal life. We sleep pretty well and are enjoying our son so much that we now feel that its time to do it all over again! Are we mad?

Despite the craziness of our lives now, the stress of pregnancy and the ordeal of trying to conceive, absolutely nothing is better than the love I have for my son. I would feel so blessed to have another little one to join our family. Last time we shared it all with our close family and friends. We needed the support as we blindly went through IVF. This time we know what lies ahead, so unbeknownst to all our friends and family we have began the process! Today is day 4 of my shots and next week may be the egg collection. It’s mad. Totally mad and completely exciting!

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Progress

EGG_2565177b Yesterday the UK government set out new draft regulations which will allow donor DNA from a ‘second mother’ to be implanted into a defective egg. Mitochondrial donation, known as the “three-parent” baby technique, was deemed not to be a genetic modification that would, as critics feared, lead to the “slippery slope” of designer babies. MPs discussed the issues of medical ethics and scientific terminology at length and reached a pleasing decision.
Mitochondria is a part of the cell cytoplasm outside the central nucleus where chromosomes are located. They convert glucose to something called ATP, which is the universal energy currency of each and every cell in the body. Around one in every 200 babies born in the UK has a severe mitochondrial disease. Although rare, the disorders can be passed to future generations through the maternal line. Examples of mitochondrial diseases include conditions that cause muscle wasting, nerve damage, loss of sight and heart failure.
This is a brilliant development for families affected by mitochondrial diseases. I am thrilled that those with genetic abnormalities will have the opportunity to have the healthy children they so desperately want.

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.

Shame On You Ireland

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Yesterday I was reading a chain of messages on Mumsnet offering support to a heartbroken woman who had recently had devastating news at her 12 week scan regarding the health of her unborn baby. One message was from an Irish woman who had been in the same horrible situation and had made the unbearable decision to terminate the pregnancy. However due to the fact that abortion is illegal in Ireland she had to join the thousands of Irish women who travel to the UK every year for an abortion. It really struck a chord with me. Having been there, and having made that awful decision, I know this is not a choice anyone desperate for a child takes lightly. It is a traumatic experience. Despite anyone’s moral and religious view on abortion it is important to note the vast difference that exists between carelessly using abortion as birth control, to terminating a much wanted pregnancy due to fatal fetal abnormalities. In the case of the latter it is utterly appalling that women, in their greatest time of need, must flee their country and feel like criminals. The law needs to change. When a woman is given the distressing news that her baby will not survive outside the womb, if she chooses not to continue with her pregnancy, she needs to be looked after in Ireland. Shame on you Ireland. Support women’s choices and their right to be treated compassionately during their darkest hour.

Ben Fogle Speaks For The First Time

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TV star Ben Fogle has bravely spoken for the first time about the heartache of nearly losing his wife during the birth of his stillborn son. In August his wife Marina was within 20 minutes of death, as she struggled to give birth to their third child, a son who was stillborn at 32 weeks. The presenter admitted that the harrowing experience was a reminder of the fragility of life and has made him appreciate every moment with his young family – Ludo, four, and Iona, three. He described how the son he never had the pleasure of meeting inspires him and motivates him to ensure his children ‘enjoy every moment of their life’.

‘There’s a little boy we never got to know and if there’s anything we owe him in getting so close to having met him, and yet so far, it’s to live life even more for him,’

The father-of-two says that since the ordeal in August, not a day goes by when he doesn’t say ‘I love you’ to his family and says the experience taught him he to never take life for granted. The presenter says his philosophy is now to smile, be happy and to seize opportunity that he possibly can.

Rainbow Baby

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I’ve seen many references to rainbow babies and it appears that we are due to have one. Rainbow babies are babies born to families after the loss of a previous baby. Rainbow Babies represent the idea that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn’t mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides new life, energy and hope. What a lovely metaphor for the feelings expectant parents, who lost a previous baby, feel for the contrasting sadness due to loss, and hope for the future.

Counting Weeks (Again)

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So the counting begins. Again. Initially we are counting to the 8 week scan on Friday. If that ends well I will count to the next one, presumably at 12 weeks. I try not to get ahead of myself with thoughts of due dates as there is far to much that can potentially go wrong before that. However I do know, all being well, if we get to that stage, that we would have the anomaly scan in October. Perhaps, if the baby is healthy we will start to relax a little from then. At present October seems far far away.

Awkward

 

Yesterday was the first time, in a long time, that my husband had to have the awkward conversation which begins with ‘so your wife must have had the baby’ and ends with that person feeling utterly embarrassed. We are resilient enough now to be able to talk about it without it being horribly painful but we do feel sorry for the well-meaning people who put their foot in it. They are people we rarely see, who are not connected to our friends and family. How should they know? It’s not their fault. Even worse was that his wife was pregnant and I don’t like to tell pregnant people in case it makes them anxious. Hopefully we will be able to tell them positive news soon.

Bad Dreams & Sleepless Nights

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I’m having trouble sleeping. It is partly the hot summer nights and partly the pregnancy. Not that I am complaining. Quite the opposite. I am eager to spot these symptoms as I am a little panicked that since I feel fine something awful has happened.

No last night it was undoubtedly due to two consecutive nightmares. One horribly vivid one featured a doctor telling me that this baby was also severely ill and that we should terminate the pregnancy, again. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that having lost our first baby at 21 weeks I am anxious about the pregnancy.

I just so desperately want this one to work out. I was expecting these fears, and the rational part of me knows that is all they are. But there is still a small voice in the back in my mind saying ‘what if it happens again?’. Despite this I would still choose pregnant and anxious over not pregnant and anxious. Why do I feel like I am between the devil and the deep blue sea?

The Fear

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Even though we are obviously progressing towards having a baby I am under no illusions, after our previous pregnancy loss at 21 weeks, that we are getting a baby. There are no guarantees. I almost want to ignore the pregnancy so I don’t become too attached to the idea. Severe health complications arose in the last pregnancy so I am extremely anxious that the same condition will occur in this pregnancy too. If this condition has occurred once, it is statistically and medically more likely to occur again. However because a post-mortem uncovered no genetic abnormalities in our baby it is assumed that it was just (very very) bad luck. Inevitably until we have our 20 week scan (which is a lifetime away) I will be concerned.

All I can do is be as healthy as possible and pray it works out. Worrying won’t change the outcome. The risk is between 2.5-5%. Once again I must wait and hope for the best.