"I am losing all hope; I am paralysed with fear. I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done." Psalm 143: 4-6
My second round of clomid made me feel even worse than the first. The headaches were more than I could bear and I couldn't cope with the other hormonal side effects. I knew that I must be a nightmare to live with and the hot flashes were adding to my discomfort. I waited for my day 10 ultra sound and attended the clinic with a sense of dread. Sitting in the waiting room I looked around at the other couples and wondered what their stories were. Did they have another other children? Had they experienced any losses as we had or were they childless? I do remember at this time, however, having a real revelation of how lucky we were to have Samuel. I lay on the bed waiting for the nurse and was quickly realising that ultra sounds were possibly my least favourite thing in the world. I was certain I'd had more bad news than good news in ultra sounds and fet so angry that these machines could look inside me and see how poorly my body was working. Once again I hated that I had no control over thesituation and was angry that the whole thinng needed to be a process of trial and error to see what worked for me. I wanted them to give me the highest dose of clomid that they could to cause mne to ovulate but instead they had to work their way up to prevent over stimulation of my ovaries.
The nurse, who had become familar to me, came into the room and we exchanged small talk as she scanned me. She explained that the follicles were bigger than the last cycle but that she still couldnt find a dominant follicle. There were 4 or 5 that had started to grow but not to the size they would have expected at that point in the cycle. She explained that I would need to come back a few days later and that we would have to pay more money for the additional scan. Feeling disheartned I left the treatment room, called by the clinic to pay my invoice, met John and Sam in the cafe and left the hospital again. John and I tried really hard to focus on the positive. During the last cycle there had been no sign of dominant follicles. At least so far this cycle there was a sign of follicles that were growing.
Time was speeding away with me again and as the weeks and months progressed I felt further and further away from my dream. I was approaoching my 30th birthday; a milestone that I was absolutely dreading. A wonderful friend of mine, Fiona, had arranged, with a group of amazing friends, a tea party in the park for me. I left the hospital on the morning of my day 10 ultrasound and went to the park to meet my friends. In addition to arranging an afternoon tea for me they had bought me 30 birthday presents. I hate birthdays at the best of times - I hate the reminder that I am getting older still without being where I had planned to be - but I was paricularly dreading this birthday. However, they made me feel incredibly special and valued. Amongst my presents were pampering things and a bath pillow, homemade chocolates, socks (a well known comfort item of mine; new socks - particularly bright ones - make the world seem a little better), books, a scarf, a jewellery making kit, candles and lots of other bits and pieces. They had ensured that every time I look back on my 30th birthday I remember how valued and cared for I felt.
My 30th birthday arrived a few days later and I returned to the clinic for my repeat scan. Again, the nurse and I exchanged small talk whilst she scanned me. She looked at one ovary, explained flatly that there were no dominant follicles, and looked at the other ovary. There were still a number of follicles that had grown a little bit since my scan a few days earlier but they were nowhere near the size they needed to be - nor had they grown at the rate they would have expected. She said, without emotion 'theres nothing to indicate this cycle will be ovulatory. You'll need to start the norethisterone again and increase the clomid dose at day three. We'll go from there'. I couldn't control myself and burst into tears. I started repeating my history to her and telling her how important it was to me to get pregnant. I asked why the treatment wasn't working and she explained that sometimes 'ovaries like mine' can be unresponsive to clomid and need stimulation injections to force ovulation. She advised that I try one more cycle at the higher dose and go from there.
At this point it dawned on me what a miracle both Sam and Emilie had been. Although we had struggled to conceive, we had conceived naturally and I had carried both of them to early third trimester. Inspite of the growth restriction and clotting problems, Sam and Emilie had survived to 33 and 32 weeks respectively. They had both defied the odds. We had had 32 precious weeks with our daughter and Samuel's story amazes everyone who hears it. These miracles dawned on me more and more strongly as our journey continued. I had carried two beautiful babies to third trimester against the odds and now I couldn't even ovulate - let alone get pregnant or carry past first trimester. I just didn't understand - and never will.
During my third round of clomid I only made it to the first scan. A couple of days after finishing the clomid I began to be violently sick. I couldnt keep anything down and was in agonising pain with stomach cramps. John had to stay off work to care for Sam and I spent the day in bed barely able to lift my head off the pillow. We called the clinic who advised that I go in for a scan. It was confirmed that, rather than stimulating the production of one healthy follicle, the clomid had casued lots and lots of very tiny follicles to develop and the hormones were making me sick. We had to cancel the cycle, wait a full month and return to the clinic for a consultation.
Blog Entry: 30th June 2012
Today I did an abseil! It has been in the diary for a couple of months and I'll admit, as much as I love outdoor pursuits I was kind of hoping I'd have a reason not to do it in which case John would have done it in my place. But all that said, I'm so glad I got to do it! I've had a really difficult week this week knowing that my treatment hasn't worked again but knowing that I'd get to do something that I wouldn't be able to do if I was pregnant has been a little light at the end of the tunnel!
The abseil had given me something to focus on. It was my 'what if the treatment doesn't work' back up plan. It gave me such a buzz and, looking back, the fact that my treatment had failed in the week leading up to it left me in no doubt that it was safe for me to do the abseil. Had this not happened; had I been mid cycle, I would have missed out on an amazing experience out of fear of harming a very early pregnancy. As it was, I spent the day with friends laughing - really laughing - and feeling care free for the first time since Emilie died. I felt like I could cope, after all.
We returned to the clinic in the middle of July. It was hot and sunny and the weather was doing a lot to make me feel more positive. Speaking to my fertility consultant, he confirmed that my ovaries had been unresponsive to the clomid and that this was very common in Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. He echoed what the nurse had said that clomid was generally the first step in ovulation stimulation but, as they knew I was unresponsive, we could move onto Intra Uterine Insemination. This was exactly what I wanted, and needed to hear. It would cost us a lot of money but I was certain that they would be able to stimualte my ovaries with the injections. And so it was back to the norethisterone to simulate a bleed for what I hoped would be the last time.