Monday, 6 February 2017

Dear Due Date

So December and January sort of whizzed past in a haze of hospital appointments, frantic packing and finally, the long overdue house move, and it wasn't until I was sat there the other day, in a rare moment of silence (I do my best to avoid those at the moment), when I realised that January would have been the month I was due my first baby. I had been so busy I hadn't even noticed it had passed me by.

The guilt I have felt since that moment is hard to describe, to talk so openly about miscarriage and infertility, but to have forgotten what should have been my child's birthday is something I am struggling to comprehend. To my beautiful little angel baby, wherever you may be, please know that whilst your due date may have quietly passed me by, I never ever forget you. You are on my mind always and I have been thinking and talking about you and your siblings more than ever.
I have been quiet on here lately, but aside from the obvious, there is actually a pretty good reason for this. I recently started uploading to YouTube, something I have been wanting to do for YEARS, and I have been finding it incredibly therapeutic talking openly about infertility and miscarriage - you can check out my videos here. The level of interaction I receive on YouTube compared to on my blog has made me focus much more on that, it is so comforting speaking to people who are in a similar position and who understand what I am feeling, and to receive comments telling me that the feelings I describe are real and valid is beyond reassuring, but there is a lot to be said for getting your feelings down 'on paper' and I have missed tapping away on the keyboard completely unguarded.

So much has happened since I last spoke to you on here, the most notable probably being that January was the month I started fertility medication. Tomorrow is test day and I can't tell you how nervous I am to see if this has worked. How beautifully fitting it would be that the same time my first baby was due, was the time I got another chance at being the mum I have dreamed of being for so long now. I am however not holding out much hope that this is our cycle, having been pregnant before, I feel very different this time and the few symptoms I do have could easily be due to the medication I have been taking. I have 3 friends who are pregnant currently, all of whom have also gone through miscarriage, and I have this irrational fear that we couldn't all be pregnant at the same time, that the world isn't that kind and that something would have to give. I know how crazy that sounds but when you have been surrounded by people who have gone through such loss, it is easy to lose sight of what it logical and it is so easy to be sceptical at how the universe works. I am extremely thankful that something is finally happening though, even if this isn't our cycle. I am so grateful that we are finally getting the help we have longed for for what feels like forever now, and that hopefully this is taking us one step closer to parenthood.

So I just wanted to write this post to say 'Hi, I'm still here!' and to acknowledge my due date, the month that should've seen me become a mother, but instead brought me a different blessing - hope, in the form of a little white pill they like to call Clomid!

How are you guys finding 2017 so far?

Becca x

Thursday, 1 December 2016

A Difficult Life Update

You may or may not have noticed some radio silence on here this past few weeks, and I'm not going to lie, I wasn't sure if my blog was over before it had even really begun. 4 weeks ago I returned home from work to the worst piece of news I could ever imagine being told, my mum has Cancer.

I cannot explain the blind fear that cursed through my veins when my mum sat me down and said that dreaded 6 letter word, still now I don't think I have truly accepted it. I remember stamping my feet up and down on the floor over and over again, and screaming in horror, no no NO this cannot be happening, not to her. It sounds cliched but my mum really is my best friend, I'm an only child and my dad left when I was 5, it has always been just me and her. This is the worst pain I could ever imagine.

I won't go in to much more detail about it, as this is obviously something my whole family is having to deal with, but I didn't feel I could carry on with this blog without acknowledging the biggest thing going on in my life, it had given me writers block as I couldn't think of how to write a post without speaking about it. I've always had this worry about my writing being really depressing and wanting to make it more upbeat, but life is really testing at the moment, and I am having to make some really difficult decisions. I am using this blog like a journal, like therapy, to get everything down on paper so to speak, and to hopefully be able to process things better in my own head.

Finding out about my mum has made my desperation to have a baby so much stronger. I cannot explain it but I just NEED to be pregnant, I need my mum to know that I've managed it. As we all know though, putting this amount of pressure on yourself is really counter productive. I have also been experiencing extremely bad anxiety since finding out, which I imagine will take its toll on my ability to conceive. I experienced anxiety after my last miscarriage but wasn't quite sure what it was so I just put it down to the hormones, but there is no mistaking it this time. I am experiencing horrendous stress induced migraines and real difficulty breathing and swallowing which is such a scary feeling, it feels as though someone has their hands around my throat and they are squeezing tightly. I appreciate that probably sounds like I am completely losing the plot, but the doctors have assured me that's quite a common symptom of anxiety, and is to do with the stress muscle in your neck spasming.

In other news, we had our meeting with the recurrent miscarriage consultant last Monday which was both positive and negative in equal measures. The tests showed nothing abnormal which was a big fear of mine, but I have been assured I will receive weekly hormone booster injections when I do next find out I'm pregnant again, which should assist with implantation. When I explained our fertility consultant had suggested Clomid, so that I would ovulate more regularly, the RM consultant said she wouldn't recommend it for us, that it has an increased risk of miscarriage. So I sort of feel back at square one, like we will just be left on our own to get pregnant again, even though it took us the best part of 18 months to do so the first time. I can't bear that sort of wait again, that soul crushing disappointment every time you get a negative test or AF arrives. I know they won't offer us IVF, or probably even IUI anymore, as we have already conceived naturally, so I don't know what they will be able to do for us, but I need to feel like something is happening.

In terms of the new house, we are still not in yet which is beyond frustrating, we desperately wanted to be in and settled before Christmas but we are cutting it extremely fine now. I think having the house to focus on would be a well needed distraction for both myself and Andrew, and then I will actually have something exciting and 'normal' to blog about too! 

So there we have it, that's pretty much my life at the moment, not really a barrel of laughs! Praying the tides will change soon and things will start to look up, but I am remaining thankful for the incredible friends and family I have around me. They say times like this make you realise who your real friends are, and my god that couldn't be more true. Some have already fallen to the wayside, but many are even more amazing than I ever knew possible.

Becca x 

Thursday, 3 November 2016

10 Things You Should avoid saying to Someone struggling with Infertility

So, as it is National Fertility Awareness Week, I wanted to do a post on the subject, and one thing that grates on me more than anything (And by grates on me, I mean drives me absolutely fricking INSANE), are the cliche things people say to you when they have no experience in dealing with infertility.

I feel I should make a quick disclaimer before I dive in to my 'top 10'... please take this post with a pinch of salt, I mean it all in good humor (sort of), and I'm well aware that more often than not the people making these statements are just trying to help, or that they wholeheartedly believe it will make you feel better - I know for a fact that the majority of my friends and family will have said one of these to me at some point, and I also know that they will have meant nothing but support and comfort in doing so. But the sad fact of the matter is, nothing anyone can say is really going to make you feel any better, and the more you hear these statements uttered in your direction, the more you begin to hate the very sound of them. As someone that has listened to people expel these words of wisdom for the best part of 2 years now, I can safely say, for me at least, these are the most frustrating things to hear as someone who is struggling to conceive:
  1. "It will happen when the time is right" - Okay this one REALLY gets to me, more so than any of the others. Surely if you have taken the decision to actively try for a baby, that suggests the time is right? What is making the timing 'wrong'?
  2. "Just relax and it will happen" - Surprisingly, it is not that easy to 'relax' and 'not think about it' when everyone around you seems to be getting pregnant without even trying, and you can't understand why it still isn't happening for you, however many years down the line.
  3. "I know it will happen for you eventually!" - Whilst this is clearly meant with the very best intentions, I really have to resist the urge to scream "You don't know that!!" every time someone says it to me. I wish it wasn't the case, but sadly not everyone can biologically carry a baby.
  4. "You're still only young, you've got loads of time!" - It really doesn't matter whether you're 26 or 46, if you are ready for a baby, you are ready for a baby. 
  5. "Things could be worse" - Yes, things probably could be worse, things can always be worse, but to a woman going through the pain of not being able to conceive, it doesn't feel like anything could ever be any worse than not being able to have a baby.
  6. "I know exactly how you feel" - Telling someone struggling with infertility that you understand how they feel, because it took you 3 months to conceive 1 of your 6 children, is not the most comforting knowledge you can thrust on someone who is desperate to have a baby.
  7. "God works in mysterious ways!" - Now this is a tricky one... I am not personally religious, but I feel I need to point out here that I have absolutely no issue with people that are, I'm actually quite jealous that people can have so much faith and belief. But what does really get to me sometimes, is when I hear people suggesting infertility is a direct result of God's will. To me, that makes it seem as though it is something that is completely out of our control, and if it is out of our control, does that mean that all of the invasive tests,  all the time spent researching, all the hard work and treatment provided by doctors, is all completely pointless if God simply doesn't will it to happen?
  8. "You are so lucky you don't have kids to worry about!" - Yes, you are right, I am so so lucky. This to me is probably the statement I find the hardest to understand, on what level does anyone think that this is going to be comforting to someone who is so desperate for a child of their own? 
  9. "Have you thought about IVF?" - People seem to think IVF is the cure for all fertility issues, sadly it's not! The devastating fact of the matter is, even if you are eligible for IVF, it is only successful in approximately 30% of cases.
  10. "Guess what? I'm pregnant!" - Okay so I appreciate this one is pretty unavoidable, I was possibly clutching at straws here to make it to a nice round 10 statements, but there is nothing quite like the knife-in-heart feeling of finding out someone you know is pregnant, to remind you that you are not.
So there you have it, my list of the top 10 things that are hard to hear when you are struggling with infertility! I am reading back through this list and wondering to myself 'So what is someone actually supposed to say?' but unfortunately I don't think there really is a right thing to say. All you can do is offer an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on. Nobody expects you to have all the answers, all you can do is try your best to understand, and to offer your support when it's needed.

Becca x

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Dear Diary #2

Okay, so I think saying I would be doing these posts weekly may have been sliiiiiightly ambitious, but here I finally am with another life update, better late than never eh!?

Last week kicked off nicely on Tuesday evening, when myself and a couple of my lovely friends from work traveled across to the Titanic Spa in Huddersfield and spent a really relaxing few hours drinking Prosecco, gossiping in the hot tub and exploring the various saunas and steam rooms - the perfect end to a busy working day! We are actually going to a cabin together at the end of this month to spend a long weekend eating cheese, drinking wine, watching Christmas films and feeling generally festive, so I am very excited about that...I think making plans and having things to look forward to makes it slightly easier to bear when you get that BFN each month - or not each month if your cycles are anything like mine! It can be so easy to sit and wallow in how negative you are feeling when trying to conceive, but I've found keeping myself busy and making plenty of plans helps me cope with things much better. Afterall, I couldn't drink Prosecco in a hot tub if I was pregnant could I?! Silver linings.

The rest of the week went by fairly smoothly and on Friday we were treated to a very exciting phone call from our Solicitor advising us that we should be ready to complete on our new house in just a weeks time, finally! Lets just say this week hasn't so far wielded such great news and that timescale is now looking highly unlikely, but I will save that story for another post.

Back to the week in question, and on Saturday we took a trip to Forbidden Corner  as it was the beautiful little Lily's 4th Birthday! We went last year as well and it such a magical place, perfect for both adults and children, and this year's visit didn't disappoint either. They had gone all out for Halloween, with creepy new additions around every corner and we spent a lovely afternoon having lunch, enjoying the crisp Autumn weather, and getting very lost in the maze - my sense of direction is definitely not my strong point!

On Saturday evening we went across to our friend's new flat and spent the happiest of evenings drinking even more Prosecco (Can you sense a theme?), going out for dinner, celebrating birthdays, and catching up on all the gossip. Every time I see my good friend Lauren (Hi babes!) and her husband Mike, it amazes me how our situations can be such complete polar opposites, and yet we can have so many shared emotions and similar experiences. I always come away feeling so very aware of how lucky we are to have such supportive and understanding people around us.

Sunday was Andrew's 27th Birthday and was pretty much a complete write off as you have never seen anyone more hungover than he was that day, it was a sight to behold let me tell you. But a lazy day on the sofa catching up on the X Factor, followed by a nice soaky bath, topped off what was really a most enjoyable week!

This week seems to have got off to a pretty rotten start already with some disappointing set backs with the new house, and I am also feeling pretty emotional and reflective with it being National Fertility Awareness Week. I am hoping to do a special blog post in homage in the next couple of days as I didn't manage to do one for Baby Loss Awareness Week last month, but I have been posting more openly over on my Instagram if any of you want to follow me over there. It's been pretty scary letting people in my 'real life' know that infertility and recurrent miscarriage is something we are struggling with, but it is something I am definitely becoming much more comfortable discussing, and I really hope to be able to raise some awareness for what is a fairly unspoken struggle.

Becca x 

Monday, 24 October 2016

Do I wish we had started trying sooner?

One thing I often find myself wondering, and that is something I'm also asked a lot by people who are familiar with our situation, is 'Do you wish you'd started trying sooner?' and that is a question I still haven't entirely figured out the answer to.

When myself and Andrew got married 2 years ago we were 24, and I guess we were classed as relatively young to be getting married. I've lost count of the amount of people who recoil in absolute shock when they find out I'm married, 'You don't look like you would be married?' ...I mean what does that even mean?! Even now, at 26, I know we are younger than the average to be wanting to become parents, let alone to be dealing with infertility. Technically I have another 4 or 5 years until I become "Older than the average first time mother" but that doesn't mean it's any easier to deal with. People always tell me 'You're still so young, you've got all the time in the world' and I know I am, but that doesn't change the fact I have wanted a baby for two long years and that it is unimaginably painful to see people around you having what you want so easily, when everything you try just falls on deaf ears.

Andrew and I got together at school when we were both 16 and after 10 years, 2 degrees, a career change, 3 houses and a wedding; irrelevant of age, I think we are in exactly the right position to offer a baby a happy and stable life. Maybe we will never know why it hasn't happened for us yet, that's a really big fear of mine. Looking back now I find it so incredibly ironic how much time we spent fretting when we were younger about what would happen if I got pregnant, how would we break it to our parents? How could we possibly we afford it? How on earth would we cope? Now our situation couldn't be further apart and I do find myself wishing we just hadn't bothered, maybe it would've happened, maybe it wouldn't, there's no way of knowing, but I know we would've coped just fine if it had. So I guess you could say in that sense, yes I wish we had tried sooner.

On the other hand, in a weird way, I am grateful for what we have gone through. I know now that when we do have a baby we will have so much more patience and appreciation for every tiny little thing that comes along with parenthood. I see people in our absolute dream situation complaining about the smallest things, and I understand that to them it probably seems like the biggest deal in the world, but I cannot explain what I wouldn't give to swap places, to have a sleepless night because my beautiful little baby is crying, instead of a sleepless night because I'm so terrified I'm never going to get to hear that sound.

And that's exactly why I find it so difficult to answer that question. Do I wish we had started trying sooner? Honestly, I think I probably do. But at the same time, if we hadn't have wanted a baby so desperately when we first started trying, and we hadn't gone through everything we've gone through this past 2 years, maybe we wouldn't appreciate quite how much of a blessing a baby is. Yes maybe we would've been parents by now, but maybe I'd also be one of those mum's I see complaining about things that women (and men!) struggling with infertility would trade their whole life in for, maybe I wouldn't appreciate quite how precious it is to be physically able to bring a child in to the world, and maybe I wouldn't cherish and capture every tiny little moment of my child's life because I was convinced for so long that I'd never get to see it.

I'd love to know what you guys think about this, if you are also struggling with TTC or infertility, do you wish you had started trying sooner?

Becca x

Thursday, 20 October 2016

My Weight Story

As I mentioned in my last post, weight for me is a bit of a sensitive subject at the moment and something I have struggled with a lot during the past 24 months. I am the definition of a yo-yo dieter so I have fluctuated between a small size 10 and a large size 16 since my school years, unfortunately hanging around the latter currently. My main issue is that I eat my feelings, when I am happy I eat, when I am bored I eat, and probably most relevant, when I am sad or stressed I eat, a lot. I am probably the only bride in the history of the universe to gain weight before their wedding - good one Becca.

When I first came off the pill 2 years ago, after a good 8 or 9 years of being on it, I never anticipated it to have such an intense affect on my body, but how wrong I was. I had just recently gotten married, I was blissfully unaware of the long journey that lay ahead of us and I was preparing myself and my body to hopefully one day, in the not too distant future, carry our baby - to add that missing puzzle piece to our new married life so to speak. It was quite the shock to find my weight, hair, skin, mood (pretty much everything) were all affected quite so dramatically.

I haven't mentioned it before, but our fertility doctor is pretty sure I have PCOS, and this can be a real contender in weight gain and struggling to lose weight. As much as I would love to blame this for my current figure, I definitely can't ignore the fact I find comfort in eating like nothing else, and my weight gain is largely down to the fact, as I've mentioned before, I have just let myself go. Whilst there are definitely medical factors (both physical and psychological), the main blame as to why I have gained so much weight solely lies with me.

It frustrates me how much I struggle to remain motivated, you would think the thought of having a baby, the one thing I want most in the world, would be all the motivation I need, but often those negative feelings override and unfortunately as I have previously mentioned, my main coping mechanism is to then go and eat those feelings! Since coming back from our holiday however, I feel more focused than ever and have been preparing and cooking all my food from scratch again and I am feeling so much better about myself already. When you are having a dark day, it can be so hard to find the motivation to cook good food and the ease and comfort of ordering in can seem like the best idea. The fact of the matter is it makes you feel happy for all of about 5 minutes and then the guilt sets in and you feel even worse than you did to begin with.

Next week I plan to rejoin my local Slimming World group and hopefully, by posting this, I will be extra motivated to stay on track. There's nothing quite like the pressure of people knowing if you've gained weight to scare you in to action! I have done Slimming World several times throughout the years, the first time getting down to my lowest weight and losing 2 stone in just under 3 months, so I know that if I follow it, it really does work for me. I'm hoping now we are finally edging closer to receiving some sort of treatment for our infertility and baby losses, the end goal will feel a little more reachable and I will feel like I'm losing weight for a real purpose.

When myself and Andrew got engaged on a beach in Greece 3 years ago, I was a good 3 stone lighter than I am now and I felt the most confident I've ever felt in myself. I was still curvy, but I had definition in my face, I could wear whatever I liked and my thighs (my main problem area) were about half the size they are now. I'm not saying I'm going to be a size 8 Victoria's Secret model one day, or that I'm even going to be as slim as I was 3 years ago, but to be healthy, happy and increase my chances of becoming a mum would mean everything to me.

As you can see below, my weight has fluctuated a lot across the past 3 years, I hope by leaving these photos here (the good and the not so good) that I can stay motivated to become the healthiest version of myself and really increase my chances of having the baby I have longed for, for what feels like forever.

07/13 - On the holiday Andrew proposed to me, a 3 good stone lighter than I am now, and feeling the best I've ever felt!
01/14 - I had left SW by this point and had gained a little over the festive period - obvs!
08/14 - My wedding day. I'd probably gained around a stone by this point but I was still feeling pretty good!
06/15 - Jump forward less than a year and I had come off the pill, started my TTC journey and gained at least another stone! 
08/15 - Celebrating our 1 year wedding anniversary in Jamaica, definitely curvier and aware of it but feeling okay!
04/16 - By this point my weight had increased pretty dramatically, probably by another stone and a half and I was feeling very self conscious. Interestingly, this photo was actually taken the month I conceived for the very first time.

07/16 - A mixture of emotions on this day, honoured to be a bridemaid at my beautiful friend's wedding but had it confirmed with the EPU just the day before that I was miscarrying our baby for the 3rd time.

10/16 - Present day, just last week on holiday in fact! You know, when I was asked if I was pregnant but wasn't...Awkward.

It's weird seeing it all laid out like that, and pretty darn depressing I won't lie! I tend to avoid full length photos and anything 'candid' or 'unposed' at the moment so the latter photos are definitely not a true representation of my current weight, but I think the increase is clear for all to see. One thing I do need to do is cut myself some slack once in a while, I need to be kinder to myself and I need to remember that I've been through a lot this past couple of years and I am still here fighting on - that's something to be proud of. Now is the time I can try and do something about it and give myself the best shot at getting this baby we want so badly. I am going to try my very best to not eat mysef in to a coma every time I get some bad news from now on, I'm sure there is a lot more bad news to come on this long TTC journey, but hopefully one day I'll be getting a big old belly for the right reason and this will all seem worthwhile!

I will try and do some regular updates on my weight loss journey, maybe monthly weigh ins to let you know how I've done if I feel brave enough. And if you have any great vegetarian Slimming World recipes please do let me know!

Becca x 

Sunday, 9 October 2016

There's No Escape

We're on holiday at the moment, we planned it to try and relax and have a bit of a break from everything, switching our booking earlier in the year from the Dominican Republic to the Greek island of Kos just in case I was pregnant - you know because of the Zika virus that could harm our unborn baby, boy do I feel stupid about that now. 

About half an hour ago we were leaving our apartment for lunch and one of the cleaners asked me if I was pregnant, cradling her stomach whilst doing so to reduce the risk of it being lost in translation somewhere. And just like that, I feel back to square one again.
I've put on a lot of weight in the last 2 years, I could try and blame it all on the stress of TTC but that wouldn't be fair, it plays a big part, but isn't entirely the reason. I could also try and blame the fact I've had back to back miscarriages in quick succession, but I wasn't far along enough for that to be fair either. The fact of the matter is, I've just let myself go, I've stopped really caring. Until something like this happens that is, and it shakes you back into reality.

The gut punching feeling of being asked if you are pregnant when you are not is hard at any time in your life, but when you are in the head space where you are so painfully aware that you are not, the humiliation literally burns all over. This holiday was meant to be a time to get away from everything, and I've tried my best to do that, but the fact of the matter is you can never escape this feeling. I feel like now I have allowed myself to actually stop and take a step back from everything, I am finally grieving for the babies we lost and I cant decide if having the time to process it all is good or bad. When I am busy it is easier, but everyone has to stop at some point.
Everywhere I go in this place there are reminders of what I don't have, by the pool there are families with young children and babies sat under umbrellas, in the restaurant there are women with prams parked up next to them whilst they eat, there are pregnant women strolling around with their neat bumps kissed by the sun and then there's me, who in all honesty has barely left the room since she got here because seeing all of that is too much to take at the moment. It naively didn't cross my mind for a minute that all the things that I find hard at home, I would find hard here too.
Friends and family keep messaging and commenting on how we look like we are having an amazing time, and I feel too embarrassed and unappreciative to say that I'm actually never truly having a good time at the moment, it's always there, looming over me. I know I am lucky to be on this holiday, a lot of people can't afford the luxury, but I would trade it in in a heartbeat, I'd happily never go on another holiday again if it meant I got to be a mum. It is easy to look like you are having the time of your life on social media, but you only put out what you want people to see and I don't like people to know I'm struggling, I don't like to put my negativity on to other people. Looking from the outside people probably think me and Andrew have such a blessed life; nice house, good jobs, a car, a dog...and on the whole we do. I know we are very lucky to have what we have but there is nothing I wouldn't trade in for us to have a family, something that should come so naturally, that comes so easily to others, but that we are having to fight so hard for. 
When I started this blog I was really conscious that I didn't want it to be negative all the time, my 15 year old emo self must be having a field day right now, but the fact of the matter is that this is what infertility and miscarriage does. Unless someone has experienced it themselves first hand, it is unimaginable how all consuming it is, every waking minute of your day is spent thinking about it, and just as you start to switch off and forget it, you are punched in the face and forced to remember it all over again. Today is an extreme example of that happening, but every day there is something that reminds me of what I don't have. I can't go to the shop, read a book, walk the dog, even turn on the TV without some sort of reminder, it is everywhere, because it is the nature of life. I hope to be able to write some more upbeat, positive posts in the future, but for now this is my reality and it would be pointless sharing it if I wasn't honest. Life is just really bloody hard at the moment.
Becca x
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