Tuesday 4 November 2014

Life after the happy ending

Susanne opens up about her life after a very longed for baby finally arrived. Thank you Susanne!

So, what’s life like when you have longed for a baby for so long, have gone through so much heartache, so much pain. When your life was consumed for years by the longing for a baby.
What’s it like when you finally have what you wanted all this time? It’s not something I ever thought about before our daughter was born (you can ready my story here if you haven’t already).
And then there she was, and she was beautiful and it was amazing. And then - and I can’t remember when I first noticed something was not right – my husband changed. Finally, about 5 months after she was born, he was diagnosed with depression. He had been there for me all that time, had kept it together, stayed strong for me. It was as if once she was born, he knew I was ok and he fell apart. I won’t go into detail, but anyone who has experience of living with someone with depression knows it’s very hard. He went to get help and started his road to recovery.
At the same time he was diagnosed, I got an offer for a job. I’d always planned to leave my old job after I had my baby, and I was truly lucky with the opportunity I got. It was a strange time – on one hand, I would have loved to be able to stay at home (we couldn’t afford it), on the other hand, I was looking forward to getting back to work, simply to get out of the house.
So I started the new job and threw myself into it. After years of being consumed by the longing for a baby I felt I had been defined by everything that happened to us.  I felt I was simply “the girl who had 3 ectopics”, our story, our road to our happy ending was my only identity. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret being so public about our story, as so much good has come from it.
But starting a new job, with new people, who got to know me as ME, not as “my story” was so refreshing, it was so powerful. People didn’t look at me and think of me as the girl with 3 ectopics, they looked at me and saw someone who was great at her job. I did, of course over time share parts of what happened with my colleagues, but it wasn’t what defined me. Throw a bit of a social life with the colleagues into it, and that was what kept me going -  any new mother knows working full time (with all the guilt that comes with it) and having a baby at home is challenging. Throw a husband recovering from depression into the mix and you can imagine how difficult it was.
I absolutely adore our daughter, she’s 2.5 now, changing every day, and we have so much fun. I enjoy the time with her so much. I also enjoy my work, I’m good at it, and I feel there are opportunities for me I never thought I could have. It took me a long time to forgive myself for that – I spent so many years longing for a baby, I felt I should want to spend every single minute with her. I felt I had no right to complain when it was tough, so I kept going, tried to do it all myself.  Well, guess what – it catches up on you. You can only go for so long until you, or those close to you realise it’s getting too much.
When you are in the middle of your journey, and all you do is cling on to hope that it will happen for you, you don’t think about what happens afterwards. When you first find out you are finally pregnant, and everything is going as planned, you get more and more excited the closer your due date gets. You don’t think about what happens when the baby is born – you expect to be deliriously happy and for your life to be suddenly complete. And in a way, for a while it really was like that. But then normal life resumes, and for me  - for us -  that was a bit overwhelming. Finding your identity again - realising you are not just a mother, but also still a wife, a friend, an employee, an auntie etc etc – it can take time.
So now I make sure I have time to myself and I don’t feel guilty for enjoying my job with the odd night away. And I know I’m a better mother for it. Thankfully my husband has fully recovered too.

Life is good, and with any luck, in a year or two we might be in a position to see if one of our frozen embryos can grow into a little brother or sister for our daughter. Who knows what life will bring.

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Helene's story

Look who is back!! I can't believe we didn't have a story to post for almost two years!! Sometimes as you know, life gets in the way and we are trying to add a few more posts to this blog to keep it alive and reach out to as many people as we can who may be looking for support.

Big big thank you to Helene who did write to us and told her story. See below, she is one resilient woman and while her experience is still very recent, her spirits are high. We are also delighted to read that her overall experience was very positive, maybe our work is making a difference!

What type of ectopic pregnancy did you experience?
I had an eventful year with two Ectopic Pregnancies (EP). The good thing I guess is we got pregnant twice in one year after trying for over 12 months. Both times I was 5 weeks pregnant and it was in my right tube.

What were your symptoms?
Symptoms were the same for both EPs – slight pain in my right side that just did not feel right.
In March I knew I was pregnant immediately and we were just so excited because it had taken us 15 months to get here. We have one child already and had no problems conceiving with him so it was a shock when it didn't happen straight away on our second. Two days after I took the pregnancy test I started getting pains in my right side - niggles that would come and go at first and then on the Friday they lasted all day long. I remember clearly as I was visiting my friend who had just come home with her new baby girl. I drove home and went straight to my GP who sent me up to EPU immediately. That was 5pm on a Friday evening. It took a week to diagnose it as an EP based on scans and my BetaHCG results and then we opted for Methotrexate (MTX) treatment. 
On my second EP again I knew immediately I was pregnant and within 2 days of taking a home pregnancy test I got the same pains on my right side again. I tried to ignore them for a day or so, really couldn’t believe it could happen again; but when they were constant I knew what was happening and went straight to my EPU. This time they were able to tell straight away from the scan that it was an EP and I opted for another shot of MTX. A week later I ruptured at home and ended up having emergency surgery to remove my right tube. That was on a Friday and by Sunday I had to have a transfusion as I had lost so much blood. I came home on Monday to recover. 
When you have an EP all the warnings and precautions are in place and now I know why! I ruptured at home a week after having a shot of MTX and knew immediately what was happening. It was one of the most frightening experiences of my life and one I really would not wish to repeat! 

How was your experience with the doctor? And how were you treated?
Overall my experience with the midwives in the EPU was amazing…they were so supportive and empathetic. They treated me emotionally as well as physically. Some of the doctors were the same but I found the Consultants very off hand and abrupt about the whole thing. Their knowledge of EPs, when I l look back, was phenomenal really and they laid out all my options for me.
I ended up staying in hospital for a week on two separate occasions this year and each time I cannot praise the staff highly enough. 
Before I was given MTX about 3 or 4 different doctors explained and walked us through what the procedure was and what the Do’s and Don’ts are. When I had surgery they were very supportive as well. 
I wasn’t afraid to ask lots of questions though, and my husband did as well, so we really armed ourselves with as much information as we could, and were involved with all decisions and aspects of my treatment.
On my second EP my Consultant did not feel I needed to come in for the 6 week follow up in the Gynae clinic but 2 days after I got home, my EPU phoned me to say that she had spoken with the Consultant and did not agree with that decision; she felt I needed to have the choice and in 6 weeks’ time I could have a lot of questions so I opted to go to the 6 week checkup. I was very grateful for the midwife in my EPU for thinking about me.

Can you tell us a bit about your emotions, family support, if shared etc
This is a tough one because most conversations you have about EPs are about the facts and figures and the BHCG levels and what is happening next…not many of them get to the emotional side of it all. On both EPs my parents, sisters and best friend were amazing. They stayed with me, either on phone or in person, throughout the whole experience – or at least up until I was over the 3 month waiting after the MTX. I felt very hard done-by; like the universe was punishing me for something in a past life! Silly I know but I still think that sometimes. It’s the hardest thing to get your head around and I am grateful that both my EPs were at 5 weeks and so I hadn’t formed too close a bond with my baby-to-be. I think of them both, or who they might have been, every day though and November and April will be particularly tough months for me. We are still trying to decide if we try again – it’s an extremely tough conversation to have with my husband because I know he was so scared for me on both occasions but particularly when I had the tube removed as I lost a lot of blood.  I am absolutely petrified to try again and have another EP but the alternative is worse for me – not having another baby and having to accept that decision. 
I was relieved to have my right rube removed in the end – as this was where both my EPs were so I felt better knowing it was gone and the risk reduced for a repeat performance. 
I found the Ectopic Ireland Forum a good source of information and support and my local EPU was really good – but they don’t have the time to talk to you on every visit. 

What has happened since? 

Not a lot! I had surgery 8 weeks ago and am just focusing on getting my body healthy again – I’m running a lot and trying to get physically strong. It also helps keep the head clear . We will most likely try again but this would be the last time as age is not on my side.