Round 1 to infertility

I have three new scars. They tell me I’m recovering well. Neatly stitched, they close this confusing chapter. They will fade but they won’t be forgotten.

On Sunday, I decorated my scars. I drew a cartoon face. I cut out the features and arranged them around my belly button scar – a fine nose, I think you’ll agree! Dad 100 laughed at the photos.

“You’re daft,” he said, which made me happy.


Last week

After six weeks of inconclusive tests, we booked a scan with an early pregnancy specialist. It wasn’t an easy decision because £380 is a lot of money for us to spend on a second opinion. Were we overreacting? I did ask myself this, especially when our hospital downgraded the risk after a scan on Tuesday. I was grateful for the reprieve from methotrexate, I really was, but there was still a quiet voice inside me, whispering that something wasn’t right. Dad 100 was worried too, which decided it for me.

So, on Thursday afternoon, we went to see Mr Jurkovic in a grand Georgian house on Harley Street. He had a large office on the first floor, with high ceilings and comfortable chairs. His face was serious and kind. He asked us questions and listened carefully to our answers – good doctors always have good ears. I handed him a typed summary of the last 44 days: beta-HCG levels, scan results, blood and pain. Through spectacles, he considered the information. Then he asked me to prepare for the scan.

Through the red door

Dad 100 and I held hands during the scan. Would we get another uncertain diagnosis? We turned to the other-worldly images on the screen. Mr Jurkovic confirmed there was no pregnancy in my womb. He found my ovaries and pointed to some blood in my abdomen. Within minutes, he became focused on a round mass. He drew lines across it on the screen, measuring from top to bottom, side to side.

“Here it is,” he said. “The ectopic pregnancy.”

As quick as that, he found it. I felt a spike of adrenalin. To my untrained eyes, it was just a grey blob, but I didn’t doubt him. At 9 weeks pregnant, we saw our pregnancy for the first time. There you are, I thought, all along. I felt relief and sadness and love, all squashed in one ball of emotion.

Mum100-blog-IVF-pregnancy-unknown-location-ectopicThe pregnancy measured 33mm x 27mm x 20mm. It was in such an obvious place – through the red door of last week’s drawing, inside my left fallopian tube.

“How could they have missed this two days ago?” I asked.
“It does happen,” he said. “You really have to know how to look.”

One way to go

Mr Jurkovic advised us to go straight to A&E at the nearest hospital. Emergency surgery was essential, he said, due to risk of rupture and further internal bleeding. Methotrexate injection was not a good option, he said, due to the damage to my fallopian tube.

“How much damage?” I said.

I knew what was coming. I absolutely knew in my gut, before he spoke. My left tube would have to be removed too. He explained the high risk of another ectopic pregnancy with a damaged tube. I looked at Dad 100. His face mirrored mine. Mr Jurkovic reassured us that many women have healthy pregnancies after losing a fallopian tube.

Did it sink in? Not really. There wasn’t time to think about implications. We thanked Mr Jurkovic for the clarity and waited downstairs for his report. We were given cups of hot chocolate. We agreed it would be foolish to ignore his instructions.

The final wait

We went to A&E at University College Hospital. Their systems were down and an angry drinker was swearing in the waiting area, but still we were admitted quickly and assigned a bed. Beneath fluorescent lights, I took off my clothes. Dad 100 helped me to put on the hospital gown, but he couldn’t figure out the ties. A nurse helped out with two efficient knots, then two cannulas were fitted, one on each arm. Then doctors with questions, another scan, more tests.

When it was just us, Dad 100 pulled his chair up beside the bed. We talked about the best experiences we’ve had together:

  • Mum100-blog-IVF-ectopic-pregnancy-Venicewatching the sunrise in Venice on Accademia bridge
  • seeing the brightly painted houses of Burano
  • stargazing on Brighton beach
  • getting lost near Bolney wood on a charity walk
  • the night Dad 100 proposed to me in a teenage disco in Camden, after Italy knocked out England in Euro 2012

“Four years ago tomorrow,” Dad 100 said, “I asked you to marry me.”
“Is it really?” I said.
He’s always been so much better with dates than me.

“Do you understand?”

At 8.30pm, we met our surgeon. He was tall and slim with eyes of pure concentration. He named the procedure: a salpingectomy, left side. He gave precise facts about the operation. He asked me to repeat back what I understood. I passed the comprehension test.

Then we were alone again. Dad 100 and me. Perhaps it was to do with speaking the words out loud, perhaps it was meeting the surgeon, but I woke up then, I realised fully what was about to happen. Sadness covered me like shrink wrap.

“I love you,” Dad 100 said. “More than ever.”

I looked across at him. How wonderful it was to hear those words. I wasn’t diminished in his eyes. In fact, the opposite was true.

Time tricks

The clock raced on – nine, ten, eleven. Each hour disappeared, so very fast, as if hospital gremlins were devouring great chunks of time.

At 11.30pm, the call came from theatre. There was lots of activity in our cubicle. Dad 100 and I kissed goodbye. A porter wheeled my bed out of A&E. There were faces at odd angles, two police officers, pale yellow walls, a well-used coffee machine. Then inside a silver lift, going up and up and up. Out on to a high floor in the longest corridor in the world. Not a soul in sight. There were black windows to my left, London city lights outside. I was floating down a tunnel to a parallel universe. At the end of the corridor, through double doors, there were people inside. They were expecting me.

In the anaesthetic room, the clock said twenty to midnight. Tom the anaesthetist prepared his potions, while his assistant Steven wrapped a blood pressure pad around my arm and clipped my finger into a pulse monitor. I put my hands on my stomach and said a silent prayer. May the life inside me be protected from unnecessary harm.

Tom passed me a plastic mask. He told me to hold it over my nose and mouth. “Nice deep breaths of oxygen,” he said, “you’ll taste vanilla.” The smell was like those air freshener trees in cars, artificial and sweet. I focused on my vanilla breathing, as I watched the second hand on the clock. Time was slow now, almost unmoving. Then Steven tickled my throat and there was the black juggernaut, hurtling towards me, that shocking and irresistible oblivion. Could I beat the blackness? I tried my very best. But soon there was the taste of anaesthetic, seeping from my windpipe on to my tongue.

A hand, a voice

When I came round, I was sobbing and shaking. It was like waking from a nightmare I couldn’t remember. It was an instinctive cry of loss and surrender. There was a clock, 2.15am. Then Dad 100 was by my bedside in the recovery area. I don’t have any visual recollection of him, but I felt his hand holding mine. And there was the sound of his voice, comforting me, though I don’t recall the words. On the ward, our conversations calmed me. When he was falling asleep in the chair, I told him to go home to bed. I drifted in and out of semi-conscious corridors. It wasn’t an unpleasant place to be.

Mum100-blog-IVF-ectopic-pregnancy-hospitalAt dawn, I opened my eyes to surprising light. I studied the diagonal shafts across sea green curtains. The angles and patterns occupied my mind. The sunlight stretched into my cubicle, warm and hopeful.

That’s when I decided to take this photo. At 4.50am on Friday – no longer pregnant and one tube down – I realised I have nothing to hide. I wanted to show my face because I remembered the love in our community. Infertility is not a shameful condition. It’s a fact of my life.

Mum100-blog-IVF-ectopic-pregnancy-surgery

Finally, some proper sleep, two or three hours. When I woke up, I sent a text to Dad 100 – he was already up, just about to leave for the hospital.

New goals

I am happy to be home. I appreciate my bed and sofa. I am lucky to live in a comfortable flat in an area I love. I am getting out when the sun shines.

I am very grateful for Dad 100’s love. He is a strong and available man. He wants children as much as I do, but he’s always said the most important thing is my health. I am lucky to have a partner who values me, above anything we are trying to achieve. I must make sure he knows he is loved.

I am still determined to be a mum – more than ever – but this is not about having a baby at any cost. My goal is now to stay safe, sane and happy while we try to conceive. We’re not in charge of the result.

I have some thank you cards to write this week – to all the NHS departments that have helped us and to Mr Jurkovic. Though this isn’t the outcome we wanted for IVF1, there are still dozens of nurses, doctors and support staff who tried their best for us.

I also need to find some new work. I would love to work in this field now. There must be a good use for this experience.

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38 thoughts on “Round 1 to infertility

      1. Thanks, will do. I just read your post to catch up on your news – fingers crossed for you, chick. We have two more frozen embryos, so our next cycle will be FET (no egg collection). I really don’t know yet whether we’ll transfer 1 or 2, we shall see x

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      2. We are getting right back on that bicycle and having another go. Bruises and scars heal in no time at all – thanks mainly to being part of this wonderful lovebus of a community!! x x x xx

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  1. Oh lovely what a journey you have been on. I don’t really know what to say other than I have been thinking of you and I am so glad you went to see a specialist as the end of this story could have been so much worse. You really are a fighter – and how lovely to see your face in your picture. Stay strong and look after each other cxx lots of love

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    1. We are so so lucky because it would have burst and then it would have been anyone’s guess what happened. There are so many positives to take from this. We can get pregnant together – we didn’t know that before this experience. I feel so much love for my partner, more than ever. We will do another cycle this year. I have seen from stories like yours that it’s worth trying again. How are you lovely? Is all well? Has sickness passed now? x

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      1. Hi lovely – still sick , a lot! Now I have piles – I’m like the least glamorous pregnant woman ever but I’m happy and thankful. 20 week scan a week today so fretting and hoping all will be ok. It’s still hard to believe it’s actually worked I’m waiting for something to go wrong and am petrified. Once infertile I think you always think that way

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      2. Oh I cannot wait to see your 20 week scan – I’m soaking up all the inspiration right now and it really helps. I totally understand why you’re scared. You have done so so well to come this far. F**k being glamorous, you are creating a little miracle in there. Of course there will always be those doubts after infertility, I think next time I will be petrified – but we are all so much stronger than we know, I think. Sending so much love for the week ahead x

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  2. I am so sorry that this happened to you! You write about a terrible experience so beautifully. Really poetic. I am glad that you could focus on love in the midst of all this. I have tears in my eyes reading it. Sending you lots of love. Xx

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    1. Thank you my lovely. Recovering well, scars are healing pretty fast. Blood test yesterday showed that HCG had dropped over 1000, so no more hospital appointments are needed 🙂 🙂 🙂

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  3. I’m so sorry that you’ve had to go through this but I’m really glad that you found a Dr who could confirm what was going on and that you’ve safely got through the operation. I can’t begin to imagine what you’ve been through but I think you’re being incredibly brave and certainly deserve some good fortune in the near future. I wish you a speedy recovery. Xx

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    1. Thank you Jessica – receiving your love with gratitude. I appreciate your encouragement with writing/work as well, as you’ve done so much to help others in this field.

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      1. Hi lovely, so sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you. I’ve been off beam for the last couple of weeks. We are almost there with transferring to new hospital – just need confirmation from their transportation team about forms to fill in for transferring our two frozen embies to them. Should hear any day now, I think. How are you doing? x

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      2. I’ve been in hospital for the last 6 nights as have had sepsis which was exacerbated by my sickness and the fact i was extremely dehydrated. On the mend now – been on IV meds as couldn’t keep anything down. On tablets now – baby is ok – had a bit of a panic about it heart rate when they couldn’t get my temperature down but seems to have calmed down now

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      3. Oh hun, that sounds full on. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been in hospital. Must have been a worrying time. Thank goodness your baby is okay. Are you still in hospital now? Xxx

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      4. I’m ok – have good spells and bad sometimes the sickness is so frightening. I’ve taken to napping – I’m so tired – all I keep thinking is as long as the baby is ok I can out up with anything. I’ve been told I’m allergic to pregnancy hormone – so that’s a worry! Only I could possibly be allergic to being pregnant!! Feeling baby kick now so that keeps me sane.

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  4. I’m new to your blog — thank you for leaving a comment on mine — and am catching up with your story. The first thing I want to do is give you a massive virtual hug. None of this shit is easy, but you are navigating it beautifully. Your writing is excellent and I hope you keep on writing!

    Coming out of the infertility closet is scary, and I think you’re amazing for doing so. I was always open about my miscarriage, but infertility is something I only shared with my online community and closest friends IRL. So, kudos to you!

    I hope you’re healing well after your laparoscopy, and that your take-home baby is just around the corner.

    Much love to you and Dad 100.

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