Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Journey - 2009

The Journey covers 2008, 2009 and 2010 in three stages.  This is the middle bit, how Chris and I got from A - B Z, from then to now, intact.

February 2009 and I was vaguely aware that I’d missed my period.  I tentatively did a pregnancy test and was staggered to see the positive blue line.  I remember feeling shocked, bewildered and slightly drunk on hope.  It had taken us over 2 years to conceive Ella and here we were 4 months after the loss of our daughter facing with trepidation a new pregnancy.  We were lost in a moment of crazy emotional freefall.

Blood was taken and my HCG level was fine, but throughout the month of March I experienced a couple of days of spotting and had my blood checked again, the level had dropped.  We were worried and went for a scan, but everything was ok.  A few days later there was more spotting.  HCG levels were checked, but at a different clinic and this time the level was climbing.  Confused by numbers and letters we didn't know what to believe so Chris drove me into Kampala and we had a further scan.  The pregnancy was visible and developing. 

Over the Easter weekend I suffered two big bleeds.  Blood filled the bottom of the toilet bowel and I shuddered, hunched over my knees.  Things did not feel right, but neither Chris or I wanted to vocalise what we feared.  I spoke to my mum, she was hoping to organise a week’s family holiday for my sisters and herself in Spain and could make it?  I dithered, was it right to return to Europe so soon?  I looked at the dates, looked at our work diary and decided I could tie it in with visiting my local doctor in the UK.  He could check the current pregnancy and advise if a cervical stitch was required.  Chris encouraged me and the thought of a precious week with my family gladdened my heart.  I booked a flight for May.

On the morning of the 23rd April we returned to Kampala for our 12 week growth scan.  The screen remained sketchy and Chris and I knew that things weren’t right.  The face of the sonographer was grave.  After 5 minutes she eventually confirmed the baby had stopped growing at 10.5 weeks but everything remained intact, nothing had come away.  After the bleed at Easter I couldn’t imagine anything surviving a loss heavy and the scan established our worst fears.  Another life and another dream gone.  Just.  Like.  That.

We shook with raw emotion and after a brief phone call left to meet with Dr B who we had seen the previous August.  He discussed what he referred to as a missed abortion and the three choices available for the removal of the foetus.  I couldn’t breath and left to sit outside leaving Chris to make the decision, which he did quickly.  We returned to Jinja, packed a bag and dropped like stones into bed.  Early the next morning we drove through the smudgy darkness and arrived at the International Hospital where I underwent a D&C.  Drugged and woozy I came round to see Midwife S at the side of the bed (she had come to make sure I was ok and to offer her support).  We cherished her belief in all things possible that afternoon.

We left with a letter from Dr B, ‘At evaluation there was a feeling of an irregularity on the interior an endometrial cavity.  Suspicious of an endometrial scar tissue.  Recommended hysteroscopy later’.  Six days later (Chris’s birthday) we returned for a scan to check that everything had been removed.  It had.  We were tired, felt wretched and shelved the birthday celebrations for another time.  I was asked to come back for a final scan the day before I flew to the UK and wearily I lay on that ruddy bed for one last look before being told I was good to go.  I held Chris tightly and boarded the plane for London.  Life felt positively hard and our hearts tore at the seams.

I’d made an appointment before I arrived in the UK to visit the obstetrician (Mr L) whose care I’d fallen under when we lost Ella.  I wasn’t keen on him, but everyone said he was one of the best in the area.  Possibly, maybe, but as it stands I am still of the opinion he’s an arse.  After a restful holiday in Spain I went for my appointment and had my mum accompany me.  He went through the stats of miscarriage, told me to keep trying and gave me a quick internal.  Cha cha cha.  Always cringe worthy, but my uterus was of normal size and my cervix appeared fine.

I spent time catching up with friends, visited London and drank in the smiles of my niece, my family and friends.  Their support was unwavering, but my head was often elsewhere, my spirit half broken.  I received a letter from Mr L who said, ‘the vaginal examination was completely unremarkable’ (UNREMARKABLE - I rang Chris immediately who said it was anything but) and was taken aback when he referred to Mr B’s prognosis as a red herring.  Little did I know those words would come back to haunt me.  In light of a future pregnancy he reiterated having a stitch at 12-13 weeks and to take 75mgs of aspirin once a day from a positive result to 36 weeks. 

At the end of June I had a wishy-washy bit of spotting that lasted for 3 days.  It wasn’t an actual period, but looked like it could be the start of my body healing itself.  Back in Uganda Chris and I ticked along.  Work was busy, but our hearts and minds were not in it.  I began to realise that my period was not a period, just irregular monthly spotting.  I checked websites and did research.  I wondered if my progesterone levels were low, if stress was the reason, perhaps there was scar tissue…the list began to grow, but I stayed stock still, frightened in case there was any truth in what I was reading. 

Ella’s first anniversary was approaching.  I made contact with a friend of a friend (HD) who had gone through something similar and she wrote an email of courage and strength.  Ella’s anniversary was a beautiful occasion on the banks of the river Nile.  Friends attended, lovely emails were received and we breathed in the love.  We camped under the stars and spoke carefully of what the future held.  Neither of us knew.  The next month was spent deliberating about the path our life was taking and could we change course?  Chris eventually announced, ‘it’s not about what we should be doing, it’s about what we want to do’.  With reckless abandon we decided to quit running safaris and to concentrate on developing the land we had in Murchison (in the north of the Uganda).  We sold one of our two overland trucks plus two vehicles.  We knew that a change was upon us and we had to grasp it.

By November I’d physically had enough.  I knew that my periods were irregular – there was spotting followed by a short bleed of between 3-4 days.  I realised, with a certain heaviness, that I was the only one who could do something about it so I sent a couple of emails to doctor friends.  They were encouraging in their suggestions and advised me to get checked immediately.  As one put it, ‘usually if abnormalities are found on a test they are likely to be there, so I think a repeat ultrasound on that little uterus of yours is in order’.  I spoke with Chris, we could afford for me to fly and someone had mentioned a fertility clinic in London.  I was running blind but did some reading, sent an email, booked a flight and arrived in the city on the 22nd November. 

I had to visit the clinic several times throughout the 3.5 weeks I was home because so much depended on the timing of my period.  I had a consultation, ovarian reserve blood test, antral follicle count and a hycosy and aqua scan (which left me reeling with pain).  The MOT continued with a high vaginal swab, smear test and chlamydia test.  My body was not a temple, it felt like a slab of meat.  The clinic was ok, but I was a number.  There was no care, no reassurance and no support but at that very moment all I wanted was to be able to leave with answers and I pushed hard for them.

The main results would take three weeks to come through and I was advised to expect a phone call from the clinic's consultant in January 2010, a few weeks after I returned to Uganda.  Christmas was lovely, my mum and stepfather visited and we spent it with close friends.  During that week HD was visiting with her family from South Africa and we spoke one afternoon under the shade of an acacia tree.  I talked about my recent trip to the UK and she gently suggested a clinic in Johannesburg that may be able to help.  I took the details and felt exhausted at the thought of having to go through everything again.  Chris and I had spent the last fifteen months like a boat on the ocean being repeatedly blown off course and I was unsure if there was any fuel left in the tank.

We wanted a family, but at what cost – physically, emotionally and financially we were near enough beaten.  We held our breath tightly with the anticipation of another new year rolling in and with it our future being told via phone call on Tuesday 19th January 2010.

1 comment:

anymommy said...

I read every word. I'm amazed at how our experiences after D&C paralleled each other. xo.