Wednesday, March 26, 2014

'Me old china'

Urban Dictionary - 'Me old china'.
Cockney rhyming slang when referring to a mate, as in plate; china plate, mate...
Used more back in the day by people from the East of London  "How ya doin' me old china?"


Chris is in country for a visit.  YAY and a bloody exhausting DOUBLE YAY!  He arrived a week ago after a flight delay of 50 or so hours.  My sympathies were limited.....try flying solo for 9 hours with a kid who has a chipped tooth and a bleeding mouth daddy-o.

Prior to his arrival Leo and I were chatting and he was shouting about his 'willy, bum, bum' and pointing to bits of his body - tummy, elbow, bum, toes, willy, hands..... he then went through the names of the men and the boys in his life who have a willy.

Eventually tired of willies he asked me what I have.  When presented with this question in the past I've never been quite sure what to call a vagina (fu/fu, mary, fanny - to name but a few) but this time I thought it right to be sensible and call it what it is.  'It's called a vagina Leo'.  He looked mystified and changed the subject to trains and trucks.

However the other morning as Chris and Leo were getting dressed I passed the bedroom door to hear Leo again, he was listing everyone he knew with a willy. He then announced at high volume, 'daddy, mummy doesn't have a willy'.  'That's right,' said Chris, 'she doesn't'.  'No daddy, my mummy has a china'.

The kid called it ;)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Volunteering in my neighbourhood

I've been thinking about volunteering for an organisation/charity/support group that deals with miscarriage and still birth. 

Based on my personal experience I found it incredibly difficult to find an organisation or someone I could relate to when I lost Ella.  Four weeks after her death I scrabbled about with the miscarriage booklet the hospital had given me and phoned the UK charity, Sands. 

An old lady took my call and every now and again, sounding lost in thought, she said 'hmmmm' or 'sorry'.  I told her my name, Ella's name but she didn't offer hers.  After 20 minutes the impossibly difficult conversation came to a dismal end and I said goodbye.  I remember crawling back into bed and wanting to die. 

Earlier this morning I walked to the local children's centre in my home town of Woodbridge to enquire after volunteering.  The young woman there spoke of a national miscarriage organisation I could try and gave me the details.  I asked if the centre perhaps had any openings for volunteers on a broader scale, perhaps mentoring, but they're not taking volunteers at this stage.

So for the past hour I've been using google and have found 2 possible leads for organisations in Ipswich.  I've rung both numbers - one kicked into an answer phone and the other call was answered by a woman who said they currently weren't in the process of offering volunteer placements. 

FOR GOD'S SAKE!  I know there is a massive need for this.  After we lost Ella I initially thought I could cope on a wing and a prayer - I come from a deeply loving family but they have often been of the mindset that you just have to 'get up and get on'.  A mindset I always thought relevant until I faced loss on every level.

Grief isn't kind, it doesn't push you onwards and upwards.  It strangles you, it suffocates you and it bleeds.your.heart.dry.  Some days the light is clear and bright and your footsteps soft and gentle.  Other days darkness falls and every emotion is twisted and contorted within the grasp of the devil's claw. 

Support should be easy to locate, especially via the internet.  But having looked then and now I know it's not easy. Hope, Courage, Tears & Tea.  That's the name of a group I'm considering starting either in person or via the web.  A place where women can talk, take tea, talk or just be.  A place where someone can stretch out a hand and say, 'tell me about your baby - how are you coping - would you like tea?'

A mountain is never easy to climb, but it just takes a step.  I'll let you know how I go.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A stitch in time

I first met with my consultant 4 weeks ago and she's lovely.  A woman who, as I walked into the room, looked up from my hospital notes and said, 'Hello Georgie, I was saying that we're about to meet someone who isn't just a fighter, but a survivor.'  I nervously looked to my toes and thanked her before pulling out a wad of tissues to stem my cold.  I felt nothing like the fighter or survivor she spoke of, but she instilled in me a confidence for this pregnancy that I had carefully put on hold.

Laura (a senior nurse) who was also in the consulting room recognised me instantly.  I couldn't place her though and she was kind enough to say nothing more.  As is often the way it wasn't until we were discussing my pregnancy history and recounting the details of the various procedures I've had that I realised where I knew her from.  She was in the delivery room with Chris and I on the night we lost Ella, over five and a half years ago. 

That was the ice breaker, we shed tears for the memory of what had been and from that moment I knew I had been lined up with the right women - women who are exceptionally professional but with a grace and humility that touched a delicate chord.  They spoke about how they would help me put together a 'gorgeous pregnancy plan' and that I was to consider them as part of my team.  It sounds a bit floaty when I type it, but it wasn't.

I realised the words were carefully chosen so as not to frighten or worry me.  In the medical world no one usually says 'help' or 'team' unless there are some serious decisions to be made.  I had thought (providing I got off the pregnancy starting blocks in one piece) that this pregnancy would follow in the exact same mould as Leo's.  Cervical suture at 20 weeks and elective C-section at 38 weeks.  I absolutely didn't anticipate the bit about 'helping me put together a plan'.  I didn't have a plan, I thought it would be all mapped out like before.

But having looked at my notes and medical details my consultant gave me two options to make a plan for; Cervical Suture V's No Cervical Suture and Natural birth V's Elective C-section. 

This was when my brain imploded.  There were a hundred questions I asked and with every answer there were more questions found.  I needed time; I needed to speak with Chris and I needed to think everything through.  Secretly I held on to the firm belief that the mould which carried Leo was the exact same one I wanted again, BUT when you're suddenly given unexpected choices it shakes the cracks in the pavement upon which you're standing.  I stopped and got myself a Double Whopper and fries on the way home in the hope that it might help......

I returned for another visit last Thursday.  I was 15 weeks and 3 days.  My cervix was scanned and everything was normal, no shortening, just right.  I needed to make a decision about the suture so we discussed again the advantages and disadvantages and also what the other consultant's opinions had been, but I had one recurring question, 'I had a stitch during my pregnancy with Leo and carried him to 38 weeks.  We'll never know if that made the difference but if I don't have one will I be able to relax??  Unlikely and if something terrible happens there will always be the what if to deal with.'

When I asked them what they both thought Laura gave me her honest answer, 'You're in turmoil, it's a big decision, but I think it would be for the best if you had the suture.'  She was right, it was the only answer I believed in. 


I went into hospital yesterday morning and had the cervical suture put in.  I was presented with yet another choice; a spinal and general anaesthetic, or just a spinal.  I took the spinal option and asked for a relaxant that would enable me to dissolve into the table during the 7 minute procedure.  The anaesthetist must have given me a shot of something as I remember nothing and for that I'm relieved - there was no way I wanted to remain awake as my lower half, nicely numb, was fiddled with and stitched up. 

It was a day of heaviness too. 

It is what it is, but the maternity block is a stark reminder of both Ella and Leo.  In theatre I became emotional as the spinal scratched into my back and then kept my hands firmly on the small rise in my stomach as I came out of recovery.   Hoping for good news I was told the procedure was successful, everything was alright.  Having not eaten for hours I dozily rifled in my bag next to the bed and sucked on a lollipop meant for Leo and thought of how much I missed him. 

The other bit of heaviness was that no one explained to me that the majority of my lower half would take over 6 hours to regain feeling.  Movement in my lower legs happened quickly enough but my bum was like one enormous saggy bean bag with zero feeling.  There's something heart stopping about having a billowing arse full of pins and needles and not being able to clench your butt cheeks, tighten your pelvic floor or scratch an imaginary itch without knowing when to stop.

By dusk I could walk again and the catheter and cannula were removed.  Having drunk over 2 litres of water and presented the evidence in a cardboard toilet-seat thingy I was able to go home.  It was my sister Abby who came to collect me.  She dropped me off at home - Leo was having a sleep over at her house - and made sure I was OK.  Moments later I crawled into bed, baby and me safe, the only outcome anyone after surgery (minor or major) is interested in feeling, safe and well.  Thank heavens for great surgeons and sharp needles.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spring is Springing

Sunshine in the UK.

The country is slowly peeling back the covers and discovering fresh air, blue sky and bacon butties at the beach.

Not bad for a Sunday, but I'm knackered!

Scooter boy at the skate park
At another park checking for trains
Bacon butties with mates

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

DHEA - I beg your pardon?

'DHEA - dehydroepiandrosterone – is a hormonal supplement and can be taken as part of your infertility treatment. In many clinical studies DHEA has been proven to benefit women who have poor ovarian reserve or premature ovarian ageing and as such DHEA supplementation has been recommended to women who are suitable.'

During my visit to Johannesburg for surgery last April my consultant discussed the options left available for Chris and I based on my fast falling fertility rate and history;

a) donor eggs
b) surrogacy

I explained that neither blew me away - that I was becoming too tired and too old to go down the route of donor eggs and surrogacy - and it was at that moment he saw in my hangdog eyes that I was sitting at a table in the Last Chance Saloon. 

But, there was one other thing I could try which came in tablet form. DHEA. 

My miscarriage earlier that year was based, in his opinion, on the poor quality of my crumbly eggs.  DHEA is known to improve the quality of a women's eggs, as well as increase her pregnancy chances.  I took the 6 month prescription and picked up the large pots of tablets on my way out.

We had discussed the side affects; headaches, spots and facial hair, but I was also told that many women chose to take the drug as a simple hormone to enhance their appearance, making them look younger (like some kind of wonder drug).  In this instance apparently it could be taken for years without risk.

I took it for 5 months but due to the early headaches I reduced the amount of tablet intake from three a day to two.  Thankfully my skin remained spot free, as did my hairless chin, but frustratingly I did not do a female version of Benjamin Button and bounce around all young and chirpy. Ageless I was not.

I visited Johannesburg for the last time in September to get confirmation that my new abnormal periods and cycle were my new normal.  It was during this appointment that a final ultrasound confirmed my follicle count had improved since April, indicating that things were looking good and most likely because of the DHEA.

Strangely that last visit to South Africa only encouraged me to get back home, stop taking the tablets and get on with my life.  And that's exactly what I did.  It just goes to show that my body was healthier than I thought.  My new abnormal didn't disrupt my cycle, my last remaining eggs were of better quality and with a head free of tough decisions my mind calmed down.  I conceived in November.

Do I think the DHEA helped?  I've been thinking about this a lot.  Once I discovered that I was pregnant then yes, I do, but it goes without saying that had I not fallen pregnant, then no.  I just took the tablets when I remembered, exactly like a student living on a diet of beer and crisps would take her vitamin pills, and that was it.

Ultimately it was recommended to me because of my history, my low fertility rate, my age and poor egg quality.  My consultant had achieved success with other patients on DHEA who had a similar history to mine so he knew there could be a chance, but by no means was it a guarantee.  More like a crazy spontaneous conception that is still seeing me reeling.

And reeling and reeling.....