Archive | December 2013

How to roast an infertile

A couple of days ago I did something both spontaneous and stupid.

I was browsing on the internet and counting down the minutes until 5pm Friday, so I could leave work and start my weekend. I clicked onto a popular site that is completely geared towards women. Think articles about cooking, celebrity gossip, fitness and most definitely raising kids. Even though heaps of the articles on the site are about babies, I usually feel comfortable enough ignoring them.

But not that day.

At the top of the home page was an article about how hard it is to be a stay-at-home mum. The title immediately flared both my curiousity and my anger, so I decided I had to click the link. Oh to go back in time and stop myself from reading that story…

The article was written by a journalist who had recently given birth to her first child. At the top of the page was a gorgeous professional photo of the author, with her hair and make-up perfect, cradling her baby. In the photograph she looked happy and contented.

But the article was completely different. It went on and on about how stay-at-home mothers are invisible. Nobody cares about them or pays attention to them. The author complained that all she got to do all day was sit at home and feed her baby, change her baby’s nappies and eat family sized blocks of chocolate. She lamented the fact that she had gone from a fast paced job to a hellish sea of nothing but babies.

She then admitted the only time of the day where anyone paid any attention to her was every afternoon when she took her baby out for a walk and everybody on the street stopped to admire and compliment her gorgeous daughter. On one such occasion while out for a stroll, a drunk man in a pub leered and wolf whistled at her, basically insinuating she was a MILF. She was apparently so incensed by his behaviour she decided to turn her life around, start eating healthier and think more positively.

I was completely taken aback by the article. I was glad that it had ended the way it had, with the author realising she wasn’t helping herself or her daughter by feeling sorry for herself. But I still couldn’t believe that she actually thought nobody cared about mothers with newborns, or that she was somehow a victim because she had to raise a small child.

And here’s where the stupid and spontaneous part comes into my story. You guys, I decided to write a comment
on the article.

I tried to be very diplomatic about it because I didn’t want to insult the author, the way I felt she had insulted me. So I explained that I had been through four failed IVF cycles, experienced pregnancy loss, and desperately yearned to be a mother. I told her I would happily lay down on the road and let a car run over me if it meant I could have a child, and I would gladly live in a ‘hellish sea of babies’.

But then I went on to say that I thought she looked like a great mum who was doing the best she could, and her daughter looked lovely and happy. I basically just wanted to remind her that she was very lucky and even when things are bad, that she should remember that she was blessed.

Feeling quite pleased with myself, I posted the comment anonymously and then carried on with the rest of my day. I thought my perspective might give the author, and other readers, something to think about. I thought I’d done a good thing.

Yesterday I happened to log back onto the website in search of a recipe for Christmas slice, and saw the article again. I wondered if anyone had left a comment under my own, so I clicked back into the story again.

Basically, all hell had broken loose. The internet mummies, who typically spend such a large part of their days nastily attacking each other and tearing each other down, had all united against me. I was an infertile in a sea of mothers. They’d sniffed me out immediately, and closed ranks against me. I did not belong. I was enemy number one.

A lot of the mothers told me I was horrid, and I had no right to say what I’d said. They told me to shut the hell up. They told me I was insensitive, uncaring, and it was people like me who caused postnatal depression. My lack of sympathy for the author was apparently grossly unethical and frightening. More than one commenter told me that someone dying of cancer would gladly lie down on the road and let a car run over them if it meant they could just be infertile, and there were lots of people out there with problems far worse than mine. It was suggested that if I was so sad about the fact I couldn’t have children, why didn’t I just adopt one. How dare I say something negative to a new mother who was struggling to come to terms with her new routine. How dare I suggest that her life was somehow easier than mine. It was pointed out that I was clearly mentally unwell.

At first I just stood there, with my ipad propped up on the kitchen bench, staring intensely at the words on the screen. You know that sensation when you slip and land on your tailbone, and all the wind is knocked out of your lungs? For a minute you can’t move or breathe and you’re consumed with pain? That’s akin to what I was feeling. Then I started to panic. And then I started to hyperventilate.

I was shocked by how nasty these strangers on the internet had been. Bullying hurts, even when it’s online. I hadn’t meant to insult anyone. I’d told the author she was a good mum and her baby was lovely. I hadn’t expected such a vitriolic reaction.

Suddenly all these thoughts started running through my head…

Why had I read that friggen article? Why had I commented on it? Why had I ventured out of my little infertile bloggers community, where I am safe and protected, and surrounded by women who understand me? Why did these people think I was trying to be insulting? Why did I think I was allowed to comment on an article in a parenting community, when I don’t have any children? Why was it clearly not okay for me to have a negative opinion of the author, but it was quite acceptable for all these women to have a negative view of me? I am a horrible person. I am selfish. Infertility is nothing compared to what others go through. I should take that advice and shut the hell up.

Then the rational side of my brain kicked in and I started to negate the stupid arguments these commenters had made.

First of all, nobody can directly cause postnatal depression. It’s brought on by a hormone and chemical imbalance in the brain, following pregnancy and childbirth. The author did not have postnatal, but even if she did I was not the cause of it. It was irresponsible of these women to suggest that.

Secondly, it is certainly understandable that new mothers struggle. They’re tired, confused and overwhelmed. If a new mother came to me seeking help or support I would gladly do everything I could for her. But this was not a new mother reaching out to her family and friends for help. This was an article on a large, popular website written by an award-winning journalist, carefully crafted to generate interest. The headline sucked you in! The author had written a controversial opinion piece. It was meant to be thought provoking. It had provoked a thought in me, so I had left a comment. Wasn’t I simply doing what the author wanted me to do when I voiced my own opinion?!

I wasn’t off-the-cuff leaving comments on the internet about how new mothers need to suck it up. I was commenting on an article about how tough new mothers have it compared to the rest of the human population. I was allowed my opinion on the article, and I didn’t see why I was being roasted for it.

Thirdly, I have never in my life said that I have it harder than people dying of cancer. That is a gross exaggeration of my opinion. If the article was written by someone dying of cancer, and I’d left a comment saying “Suck it up Buttercup, I’m infertile. Try that out for a day or two and see how you like it.” I would expect to be abused by everyone on the website.

But I was comparing having a child to childlessness. I was comparing two sides of a coin. This lady was basically pointing out how awful it is to be the mother of a young child, and I was counter pointing out that it’s even worse to not be the mother of a young child (when you badly want to be).

But comparing infertility and terminal cancer is like comparing apples and oranges. It was not what I had intended at all. Of course people dying of cancer have it much worse than me. I never said they didn’t! I’m not trying to say my problems are worse than anyone else’s. Am I making sense at all here?

Finally, I feel I should address the good old “why don’t you just adopt” throwaway condescending line from mothers who have never experienced infertility. Oh my gosh! You guys! I should just adopt! This never occured to me before now! How silly that I’ve been wasting my time and money on IVF! I can just go down to the shop and adopt a baby! It’s practically the same as adopting a stray dog from the RSPCA!

Never mind the fact that Australia has the lowest adoption rate in the developed world. Never mind that adoption here takes an average of nine years, once you even get onto the waiting list, and many couples “time out” because they get too old waiting to reach the top of the list. Never mind that I can afford to go through at least eight to ten cycles of IVF for the same price as adopting one child. All my problems are solved! Yippee!!

In all seriousness though, I just want to sincerely apologise. I genuinely never meant to offend anyone with the comment I left on that article. I feel like saying that, even here on my blog, will somehow get this weight off my chest. I didn’t mean to hurt the author, or anyone else who read my comment.

Maybe the others who commented didn’t mean to hurt me, although I suspect they did. Maybe my tears and sorrow were for nothing. But don’t worry, I have well and truly learned my lesson. I feel awful. I feel like a sub-human. I feel unworthy to breathe the same air as everyone else.

I will never, ever, ever step outside my blogging community again. I’ve noticed that some of the nastier comments have now been removed by moderators, but it’s too late to unsee what I have seen. I won’t try to give fertile people perspective. I see now that they really, honestly don’t want it. They will just resent me for trying. They don’t get it. They’ll never get it. They don’t want to get it. They don’t want to even try.

It’s two days until Christmas. That author will be celebrating her first Christmas with her new baby. Her first Christmas as a mother. I will be miserable, and barren, and alone. If anyone is angry at me for my comment on that article, maybe they can remember that fact and they will feel satisfied that I have served an adequate punishment for my words.

Now I’m going to push this whole incident out of my mind and try not to think of it again. Like the author, I want to turn this story around and end on a positive note.

So here’s three great things about being me, so I can remind myself that I’m lucky to be me:

1. Later this week I’ll be jetting off to Malayisa to enjoy my first overseas holiday. I’m so grateful.

2. Even though this is my last week in my job, I get to go back to another job next year. Sure, it’s less pay, but so many people are out of work at the moment. I’m so lucky to have a permanent position.

3. I have amazing friends and family who rally around me to support me all the time. I know not everyone has someone they can turn to when things get tough.

See, isn’t that a much nicer way to end a post? 🙂

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Just adorable

This morning I re-activated my Facebook account, after almost 2 months away from the site.

I got rid of my account after the birth of my niece. I was jealous and bitter and depressed and devastated for myself, because she was due 4 weeks before my Nemo. Suddenly I just couldn’t deal with the endless baby bump photos, pregnancy announcements, and constant stream of baby pictures on my newsfeed anymore. I needed a time-out to save my own sanity.

But today I felt like I was ready. I felt like my anxiety had stabilised, and I was prepared to deal with whatever was waiting for me on the other side of the sign-in screen.

Plus, I figured I would have to get used to looking at my new niece’s face because my sister-in-law and her family are headed our way as of tomorrow to celebrate Christmas with the family. Thankfully they’ve rented their own house nearby instead of crashing at our place like they normally do. This is probably because our renovations are ongoing, but it suits me fine because I won’t be kept awake at night listening to a newborn crying in the next bedroom over. That would have been a cruel Christmas joke.

Nonetheless, the baby will be around whether I like it or not and I don’t want to be so awful that I panic in front of my in-laws. I want to be able to hold the baby without crying. I want to be able to bond with her, and let her bond with me. I love my older niece so much and I really want that with my younger niece too. I want to be a good aunt.

So I logged into Facebook, after all this time away, to future-proof my heart, and acquaint myself with my niece.

And there it was at the top of my newsfeed. A post by that same friend I hid from in the supermarket carpark a few weeks ago (which I wrote about here). A picture. No accompanying description, just an image that contained four words.

ImageYou make adorable babies? You make adorable babies? Well congratulations! Do you want a medal? Do you think you have somehow accomplished something amazing? Do you think you consciously caused your baby to be adorable? No offence but all you did was lie on your back with your legs in the air. That’s how your baby was made. Whoop-dee-doo!

Try making a baby the way I’ve got to make babies and see how you like it. Have a crack at multiple surgeries, invasive tests, medications that make you sick, weight gain, hair loss, memory loss, acne, mood swings, panic attacks, accupuncture, chinese herbs, migraines, hundreds of blood draws, a daily injection regime, bloating and swelling, cramping, never-ending bleeding, egg pick-ups, nervous waits, embryo transfers, progesterone suppositories, pregnancy losses, and cold, clinical evaluations of your failures. And don’t forget to fork out your life savings for the pleasure.

Now I am just angry! I’m grumpy and sour-faced and so peeved at myself for logging onto that horrid website.

See how bitter I am right now? I’m angry because someone is happy that they have an adorable baby. That’s not very fair. Everyone thinks their own children are adorable. Everyone has a right to proclaim that their kids are beautiful. I feel bad for ranting about my friend, and she doesn’t even know I’ve ranted about her. The problem does not lie with her, the problem lies with myself and my inability to cope with a newsfeed filled with happy baby bragging.

Screw Facebook. Seriously. Nothing good ever comes from that place.

Ain’t no infertiles got time for that.

Goodbye again Facebook. I hope I’ve learned my lesson now and I won’t revisit you for a very very long time.

Today

Today is the 11th of December 2013.

Today isn’t just any ordinary 11th of December. In Australia we list the day first, which makes today 11/12/13.

Today is also my Nemo’s due date.

Imagine if my baby had been born today. That would have been one really special kid.

Really special.

But Nemo will not be born today, or any other day.

Nemo lives inside my heart now.

xx

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An infertile at the supermarket

For some insane reason, I agreed to do the grocery shopping with my husband on Sunday.

I had firmly decided not to return to any busy shopping centres until after the Christmas holidays were over. With my anxiety rearing it’s ugly head at unpredictable times, I didn’t need to place myself among the throes of babies dressed in cute elf costumes, and kids high on sugar in the line to visit Santa’s grotto. But for some reason my husband really wanted me to go with him.

“Don’t worry, we’ll go super early.” he said eagerly. “The grocery stores open before the retail stores, so if we do the groceries first thing there’ll be no kids around.”

Sure enough we arrived just as the grocery store doors opened, and were pleased to find the car park mostly empty. I knew in half an hour the same quiet stretch of concrete would resemble a war zone, with people fighting to get parking spaces, blocking roads and blaring their horns at each other. The thought sent a shudder down my spine.

I stepped out of the car, gathered our swag of environmentally friendly shopping bags from the back seat, and started across the car park towards the entrance. That’s when I spotted her.

A friend from high school, toting her 8 month old baby in her arms. A friend who had been bugging me for months to come over and meet her precious bundle of joy. A friend who was so thrilled to be a mother she couldn’t stop gushing about her baby, even after I explained I was depressingly infertile. She had also just parked her car and was also heading into the shopping centre.

“Wait!” I hissed frantically. “Wait, wait, wait!”

My oblivious husband was walking a step ahead of me, so I grabbed the back of his shirt collar and physically dragged him behind a large cement pillar. He looked at me like I had sprouted a second head, but dutifully stayed where I had placed him.

“Why are we hiding?” he whispered.

“Because my friend Hannah and her baby are just over there.” I whispered back. “If she sees me she will thrust that baby into my arms and then try to take a photo of us together for her ever-growing Facebook photo collection.”

“Ok.” Doug said, understanding. “Stay here, I’ll peek around and tell you when the coast is clear.”

I was grateful that my husband was being so considerate, but also massively regretting the fact I agreed to come shopping. It had been a stupid, stupid idea.

More importantly, I could not even believe my life had come to this. I was hiding behind a pillar in a shopping centre car park. Hiding from my friend and her baby. Hiding behind a pillar! From a baby! It really put my life into perspective.

After a few moments, Doug confirmed that Hannah was gone and I slinked back out into the open. We were at one of the biggest shopping centres in the southern hemisphere, and there were five different grocery stores inside. I started to become paranoid that Hannah had gone to the same store that we were going to. There was no way to tell.

Keeping my head down, we ducked inside and I grabbed a basket. I did a quick sweep of the store from my vantage point at the entrance and thankfully couldn’t spot Hannah inside. I let out a sigh of relief and we headed down the first aisle. No more than thirty seconds later, I was grabbing a loaf of bread off the shelf when I felt someone come up behind me.

“Hey there! Fancy meeting you here!”

I turned around to come face to face with the realtor who sold us our house. Fantastic.

“Hi, nice to see you again.” Doug said, happy to do the talking for both of us.

“How’s the house coming along?” the realtor asked. “Have you started renovating yet?”

“Yes it’s all happening.” Doug replied enthusiastically. “The painting is almost finished, the tiling is underway and the floorboards will be finished today.”

“Wow!” the realtor said, clearly impressed. “Surely you aren’t staying at the house while all that is going on? Those fumes coming off the floorboards would be awful!”

“Yes the house is very smelly.” I finally piped up. “We’re staying with my parents for a few days.”

“Probably for the best.” the realtor nodded pensively. “The fumes wouldn’t be good for your baby.”

Oh.

My.

God.

In a flash I remembered that during our third private inspection of the house, prior to purchase,  we had been measuring up the space we’ve allocated as our future nursery when the realtor walked into the room and overheard us discussing where we would put things ‘once the baby arrived’.

At that stage I was in the early days of my second pregnancy, and armed with the knowledge that less than 2% of women under the age of 30 have two consecutive losses. He had asked if we were expecting, and I had this awful feeling that if I lied and said no I would somehow ‘jinx’ the pregnancy. So I had blurted out that yes I was.

I had told him I was pregnant. And now he was talking about the baby. But the baby wasn’t around anymore. There was no baby.

What the hell was I supposed to do? I didn’t want to tell this person, who was a virtual stranger, that I’d lost my pregnancy. Not in the middle of a damn grocery store!

“Haha, yes, the baby…” I muttered senselessly. “How about that. Yes indeed. Yep yep yep…”

Thankfully he didn’t pick up on my awkwardness and after a few more minutes of small talk he moved on to continue with his shopping. But I could feel the anxiety welling up inside me. I flexed my fingers a few times and tried to shake it off. I knew I could get through this wretched grocery shopping expedition. I just needed to keep calm and take each moment as it came.

Then I looked up, and Doug was gone.

Starting to panic, I could feel my breathing starting to turn shallow. I could not deal with this if I was on my own. Not knowing what else to do I started walking up and down the aisles, wringing my hands like a lost child.

I cursed my husband’s lack of height that made him harder to spot in a crowd. How had he disappeared so quickly? One second he was there, and the next he had vanished into thin air.

On my second sweep of the store I finally located him in the fresh produce section, filling a brown paper bag with mushroom cups. My relief was palpable and I rushed up to hug him.

“What the hell were you thinking walking away from me!” I snapped. “You know I have anxiety! You know I do!”

“Um, what?” he asked, perplexed. “I told you I was going to get some mushrooms and you looked right at me as I walked away.”

“Well I didn’t hear or see you!” I replied.

“Ok calm down.” Doug said. “It’s fine, I won’t leave you again.”

Doug was true to his word and didn’t leave my side for the rest of our shopping trip. He even tried to keep things light hearted. As we reached the end of each aisle he would jokingly push me up against the shelves and tell me I couldn’t pass around the corner until he checked to make sure no one I knew was in the next aisle over. I was thankful that he was able to keep me laughing and smiling in a tense situation.

I guess I learned two things from my experience:

  1. I can control my anxiety as long as I remain calm – I was so proud of myself for not having another panic attack.
  2. Stick to the original plan and stay the frig away from shopping centres!

Has anyone else been through an experience where someone hadn’t realised you were no longer pregnant? How did you handle it? Advice would be appreciated so I don’t act like such a bumbling idiot next time!

It’s official: I am a bleeder, not a breeder

If you exclude the few days of sweet respite in between each episode of bleeding, I am currently on day 24 of my period.

Day 24.

If you count the few days in between, when I was tired and hormonal but not actually bleeding, it’s been over 30 days. A month of fun for the whole family!

I said a month of fun, so you’d better be having fun or else. No I am not a hormonal bitch right now. STOP LOOKING AT ME!

*ahem*

“Surely this bleedapalooza must be coming to an end?” I hear you ask, as you cower away from your computer screens.

Well actually, now that you mention it, no it is not. Not by a long shot.

I’ve been experiencing severe cramping all morning and the surf is definitely up. You could even say the primary swell has tripled since I woke up this morning. It’s a tidal wave and I fear it will soon be a tsunami.

I can hardly walk the pain is so bad, even though I’ve got a heat pad across my abdomen and I’ve taken strong painkillers.

I mean yikes. At some stage my reproductive system is going to run out of lining to shed, isn’t it? Isn’t it? I can’t just keep bleeding indefinitely, can I?

My uterus must be empty by now. I know my adenomyosis and endometriosis are also playing a part here, but I’ve coasted past my previous menstruation record of 18 days (though to be fair, I did bleed for 18 days straight on that occasion and this time I’ve had two short breaks).

I have no idea when this is going to end but I hope it will be soon. Otherwise I imagine I will end up looking like a shrivelled prune, drained of all my life force, not unlike Steven Tyler. Maybe this is what happened to him too. You never know.

In terms of my anxiety I’m doing a lot better, even though I’ve had a few touch and go moments that I’d really like to write about when I’m feeling a bit healthier.

I still have moments of clarity where I feel mostly normal, and moments of deep sadness and stricken panic.

I am going to see my GP and my therapist in a couple of weeks time and I guess we will look at the best way to treat my mental health moving forward and keep me sane during my next IVF cycle in January.

In the meantime I’ll be sure to let y’all know if and when I eventually run out of blood.

A state of calamity

Two nights ago I had a complete meltdown.

It started in the afternoon, after my traumatising experience at the pathology collection centre. I’d suffered a mini anxiety attack in the middle of our city’s busiest mall because I couldn’t stop thinking about the man who took my blood excitedly announcing he was going to become a father on Christmas morning. I pictured the way he would share the news with his family. The imaginary scene played over and over again in my mind like a bad video clip on repeat, and I couldn’t seem to turn it off.

When I returned to work I was unable to complete any more tasks for the day, and instead just sat at my desk trying to keep myself composed and looking busy.

On the way home I stopped off in a nearby suburb to collect a large white photo frame that I had purchased on ebay. I stumbled across it quite accidentally on the site, and thought it would look great in our new master bedroom. I knocked on the seller’s door, and was greeted by a slim, blonde woman in her early 30s.

“Hi,” I said, offering a broad smile. “I’m here to collect the -”

“Shshshsh!” the woman interjected urgently. “I’ll need you to keep your voice down. I’ve just put my baby to sleep. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get babies to sleep?”

My eyes bulged in shock, but I said nothing further. I simply handed over the money and took the frame.

Did I know how to get a baby to sleep? Well yes, actually. I’ve put plenty of babies to sleep. In fact, my friends used to joke that I was the baby whisperer. It was all so different a few years ago when hardly anyone in my group of friends had babies. If there was a baby at a party or social function it would be happily passed around the group for all my friends to coo over. But as soon as it started crying, the baby would be thrust in my direction. My friends were terrified of crying infants, didn’t know how to change nappies, and didn’t want to learn. I was the only one in the group who was willing or able to provide care and comfort. Now it’s so different. Now half those friends have children of their own.

I was relieved to finally arrive home, but quickly realised my relief was to be short lived. Our floors are finally being polished upstairs, and our tiler has started working downstairs. The state of the house meant that we would have to spend the night at my parents’ place. I ducked inside to pick up some clothes and medication. On the way out, I checked the mail box. I was quite surprised to see a letter from my sister-in-law Jess.

I have mentioned in the past that Jess has been quite insensitive and hurtful this year, throughout her pregnancy and the birth of her second child. If you don’t remember you can read a few examples here and here.

I have also previously mentioned that after finding myself unable to cope with the constant baby photos on Facebook I deactivated my account about 7 weeks ago. What I didn’t mention was what happened shortly afterwards. It took Jess a few weeks to cotton onto the fact I no longer had a newsfeed to be clogged with photos of her new baby, so she kindly started texting me through photos that I could enjoy and keep. Yay. Just what I wanted.

“What’s next!” I had lamented to my husband. “Will she start sending me photos of her damn baby in the damn mail?”

But I will admit that I hadn’t actually believed that would happen. No one was that cruel.

So when I peeled open the envelope and pulled out a photo of my two year old niece and her new baby sister dressed in pink Santa hats I was completely stunned. Flipping the photo over, I saw my sister-in-law’s scrawl and the words ‘To Uncle Doug and Aunty Sadie, get ready for a pink Christmas! Love Layla and Amy’.

It took me another few seconds to work out the true meaning of the message – because Jess now had two girls and we had no children of our own, the entire family was going to celebrate a girly Christmas day. The entire day’s celebration was to revolve around Jess and her daughters. Of course.

I was absolutely fuming mad. Was that really the kind of shit I have to cop from someone in my own family, a couple of weeks after terminating an unviable pregnancy and less than a week before the due date of another failed pregnancy? The act was low, and unacceptably selfish.

When I arrived at my parents’ place I decided to try relaxing and watching a comedy movie. Doug was out with a mate for the evening, so I could choose whatever I wanted. Flipping through my parents’ dvd collection I came across ‘This is 40′ and decided it would be perfect. I enjoy Judd Apatow movies (yes I’m a sucker for lame humour) and had never seen it before.

The first half of the movie was pretty good and I chuckled along happily. Then came the part where the doctor surprised Leslie Mann by announcing she was accidentally pregnant at 40. Oh no. Oh, no no no.

Leslie reacted by sobbing, clawing at her face and neck, and wiping sweat from her brow. She was obviously horrified to hear the news. I quickly turned the movie off, realising I couldn’t even watch a comedy without being reminded of my failures as a human being.

When I headed out of the living room I saw that Doug had arrived, and sidled up for a hug. But as I moved towards him I realised straight away that he was angry at me.

“Did you just sit around all night watching television?” he demanded, seemingly ignoring the fact he had spent the evening at the driving range perfecting his golf swing. “You didn’t even bother to pick up some of my clothes from the house when you were there, and there’s no sheets on the bed in the spare room! It’s late! You could have put sheets on the bed hours ago! Now I’ll have to do it!”

I did feel really guilty, especially about the fact I’d picked up clothes for myself but not him when I was at our house. He had completely taken over domestic duties since I had my methotrexate shot. He had been doing all the cooking each night, washing the dishes and doing all the laundry. I could understand why he was angry that I hadn’t even been able to do this one thing for him. I hadn’t thought about him at all.

“I’m sorry.” I spluttered. “I don’t feel well.”

He rolled his eyes and stalked off to find some sheets. Feeling dejected, I headed into the bathroom and started stripping my clothes so that I could take a shower. Peeling off my underwear I noticed the blood immediately. My period had properly begun. Again. My third period in five weeks.

Suddenly I was howling. I went from calm to utterly hysterical in about 12 seconds, having completely lost the ability to control my emotions. There was nothing I could do to stop myself.

Doug rushed into the bathroom to find out what was wrong. I was sobbing so violently I could hardly speak.

“I just don’t feel well.” I managed to repeat.

“I know things are tough at the moment.” Doug said. “But if you don’t feel well why did you watch that movie? Why didn’t you just go to bed? How can I help you if you won’t help yourself? I don’t want to listen to your self-pity.”

That was all it took to send me completely over the edge.

“Get out.” I spat, turning on the shower. “Just get out.”

Without another word Doug left the bathroom and I stepped into the shower cubicle. I washed myself, then just let the hot water wash over my body as I shook and sobbed. Suddenly I could feel my chest tightening and before I even realised it I was having trouble breathing. I started gulping in big lungfuls of air, but I still didn’t feel like there was any oxygen in my body at all. I knew I was having a panic attack, but it felt like I was dying.

I hopped out of the shower, dried myself and wrapped my fluffy towel around my body, all the while gasping for breath. My gasps became quicker and quicker. My hands were on my chest and around my throat. Suddenly the room started spinning. I couldn’t breath. I just needed air. I was going to collapse if I didn’t start breathing. Why were none of my gasps pushing air into my lungs? Looking at myself in the mirror I saw that my skin had lost all of it’s colour, and my lips were turning blue.

I don’t remember how I started breathing again. I don’t remember Doug coming back into the bathroom, or how he calmed me down. But I know that he did. I remember him helping me sip water, dressing me in my pyjamas and putting me to bed.

Then he lay with me on the bed, in the dark, rolling me over so that my head was on his chest, his left arm wrapped around my back, his right arm around my shoulders and his legs locked over mine.

I knew he felt bad about the things he had said earlier. I realised that they had been blurted out in the heat of the moment, without knowing what I had been through already throughout the day. The last few weeks had been hard on both of us, and sometimes when people are worn out they snap. His careless remarks had simply been the straw that broke the camels back.

Doug rocked me gently as I continued to cry, telling me that it was okay to be upset. We stayed that way for forty-five minutes, my tears puddling onto my husband’s chest. Somehow I managed to drift off to sleep.

The next morning I awoke feeling like I’d been hit by a bus. It was almost as if my body had gone into some kind of shock. I was so slow getting dressed for work, missed the bus and ended up arriving half an hour late. Two different colleagues asked if I was okay, thinking I had the flu. One even suggested I go home, but I insisted I was fine.

The entire day I felt like I was on the verge of tears, even though those feelings of anxiety had dissipated. I had severe stomach cramps and indigestion type pains, despite not eating much of anything at all. I kept rushing to the bathroom thinking I was going to vomit, but instead I just dry heaved. I was a total wreck.

After work Doug met me in the city and we went to see a movie. We hadn’t had a date night since before we started our last cycle of IVF, and he was trying very hard to keep my mind off things and make me feel better. I shivered violently throughout almost the entire movie even though I was wearing a thick cardigan. Doug had both his arms wrapped around me, rubbing his hands up and down my biceps. It must have been so uncomfortable for him to stay in that position, leaning over the armrest that separated us, for a two and a half hour movie.

Last night I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and I slept solidly until 11am this morning. I feel so much better today. I’ve kept some food down and my mental state seems to have stabilized. I still have a hormonal headache but I feel like a human being again. I’m incredibly tired and imagine I’ll probably sleep for another 12 hours tonight.

This has just been a really long, really hard year for me. I feel like all the shit in my life has been slowly building for the last few months and my panic attack was the climax. Now I’m hoping I can stay under the radar and just slip quietly into 2014. It would be really great if this year could just end now.

Two days ago I hit rock bottom. But I’m still here. I’m still surviving. I’m taking one breath at a time. I refuse to stay down. I will make it through this. I will.

Today I made a formal complaint

To whom it may concern,

I wish to provide some feedback on my most recent experience at one of your pathology collection centres. While I do not wish to cause any trouble for your staff, I think it’s important for you to be aware of the personal distress that was caused to me today when I was having blood drawn. I do not wish to identify the name of the person who undertook my test or the location of the clinic, I just wanted to make you aware of my experience in the hope that such distress will not be caused to others in my situation.

I had my blood taken today to confirm the successful termination of a pregnancy of unknown location. The specimen collector confirmed this was the reason for my test, asking me if I was currently still pregnant. I told him that I was not. The request form also clearly stated that my doctor was a fertility specialist, and that a copy of my results was to be sent to my fertility clinic.

Unknown to the collector, my unsuccessful pregnancy was the result of my fouth cycle of IVF. My husband and I have been desperately trying to have children for several years, experienced pregnancy loss in the past and were devastated to find we had to terminate our most recent pregnancy because it was not located in the uterus. These are all very personal details that I prefer not to share with others.

While administering the blood test, the collector asked me of my plans for Christmas. He then began to talk about his own Christmas plans even though I had not asked him about them. He told me how special this Christmas would be for him because he and his wife were going to tell their extended family that they were expecting their first child. He told me all about seeing his baby’s heartbeat at their first ultrasound, how excited he was that he could announce the pregnancy to his family on Christmas morning, how thrilled his mother and mother-in-law would be, how unexpectedly wonderful the pregnancy had been, and how he planned to be at every ultrasound and appointment so he didn’t have to miss out on any part of this very special experience.

During the appointment I smiled and nodded because I did not know any other way to react. I was completely stunned that the collector was being so utterly insensitive. Even without knowing that I have been going through IVF, surely he could understand why I would not want to hear such things while I was having blood drawn to confirm the end of my own pregnancy. My husband and I had also planned to tell our families of our long awaited pregnancy on Christmas morning, however that will no longer be a possibility for us.

Undergoing fertility treatment and losing a baby is hard enough as it is, without being subjected to such insensitivity whilst I am having my blood drawn. This incident has been extremely upsetting and stressful for me. After I left the clinic I was very emotional and suffered an anxiety attack. I will now be fearful of returning to have my blood drawn in the future because I will associate those feelings of panic and anxiety with your collection centres.

I wish for it to be known that the staff member who collected my blood was extremely pleasant and cheerful. I thought it was great that he attempted to make conversation while the test was in progress. I simply think that the subject matter he chose was entirely unacceptable and perhaps your staff need to be counselled on how to behave tactfully in the workplace and whilst dealing with patients.

I appreciate you reading my feedback and hope that you will take my comments on board.

Kind regards,

Sadie