Four Miscarriages and a Cancer

Four Miscarriages and a Cancer

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Four Miscarriages and a Cancer

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Four Miscarriages and a Cancer

“Four Miscarriages and a Cancer” is the statement that pretty much sums up our past week.

My husband, Sam,  said it to me in the middle of the night when we were both lying awake… neither of us could sleep and I just cracked up laughing.

It’s amazing the silly things that can make you laugh when you’re having such a bad time.
We were shattered when we found out last Monday that we had experienced our fourth miscarriage. We weren’t exactly NOT expecting it, but we had a little hope that the odds may just fall in our favour this time around.

But that wasn’t even the worst of our week.

We decided pretty quickly to book me in for surgery on the Wednesday. I don’t usually see any signs of miscarriage myself other than a missing heartbeat on an ultrasound screen so I find a D&C is the easiest option… much more pleasant than “waiting it out” for who-knows-how-many weeks for my body to work it out by itself.

That very same day I had dropped my cat Sebastian off to the vets to have a tooth pulled out. Except, unfortunately (or maybe fortunately!) the little bugger had jumped up on to the sink that morning and licked a plate I had left there and so the vet decided just to do some blood work instead and put the surgery off for a day.

So, I found out about the miscarriage on Monday, and then on the Tuesday, took little Bas back in to the vets for (what I thought) would be his surgery. Except, when I got to the vets he told me the blood work had some concerning results and he thought Sebastian may have cancer in his liver.

I was pretty shocked to hear this, as Bas is only 11 (that’s about 60 in human years) and has never really had any health problems, PLUS other than eating funny due to his dodgy tooth there didn’t appear to be anything wrong with him!

The next day (Wednesday) I went in to the hospital for my surgery, and no sooner had I gotten home (hoping to spend the afternoon resting on the couch) when my Vet called to say Bas could be referred for a scan that afternoon.

Of course, if the little guy did in indeed have cancer, there was no way we wanted to delay any sort of treatment for him, so Sam and I trundled dutifully down to the Vet’s.

It was just our luck that there was a crazy mix up behind the scenes at the Vet’s… so we had to wait 3 hours in the Vet waiting room just to be told… Bas couldn’t have a scan and we’d have to come back the next day.

If there’s ever a time when you’ve felt like things “just can’t go right” in your life, you can understand pretty much how we were feeling that day.

To top it all off, I was lucky enough to come down with a cold that afternoon as well.

So fast forward to the next day and I decide I couldn’t possibly get out of bed (seriously, I’ve got a cold, my baby died and my cat has cancer – who would get out of bed given the circumstances!?) and Sam agrees to drop Bas off to his appointment.

A couple of hours in to the day (Thursday) and the Vet calls to confirm the worst. Bas does have cancer and needs a CT scan to see if it has spread. We have the option to book him in for surgery the same day as the scan… which can most likely be done the following Monday.

So of course, we do what any crazy cat lady would do and agree to the exorbitant fee’s associated with CT scans and surgery for cats and book him in.

We spend the next few day’s giving Bas as much attention as we can and wait to see what happens next.

I am SO relieved when the Vet calls Monday afternoon to tell me Bas is doing well (considering). The CT scan showed that the cancer hadn’t spread and they were able to remove the mass in his liver.

I was relieved for a whole 4 minutes, until the Vet called me back to say there was a problem with Sebastian’s red blood cell count and he would need to have a blood transfusion.

So, I wait, feeling pretty stressed again for another 4 hours… until I finally get a call saying he is doing well and I won’t hear anything until the next day unless there is some emergency in the night (so of course I had the worst sleep in history that night).

Anyway, a couple of days later and I FINALLY get a call saying Bas is doing better and can come home.

You might be wondering…. How does one stay sane with all this crap going on?

To be honest, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I have bad days. I can’t go anywhere nor talk to anyone (I think it’s totally fine to turn off your phone and not answer your door if you need to).

I did stay in bed all day just for one day.

Then I decided that things could be better. I forced myself to get up, have a shower, do my hair, put on a nice outfit, put on some make up and go out for dinner.

I gave myself a limit. I could sleep in, but I couldn’t stay there all day. I realised I’m still recovering and if I need sleep, well that’s fine, I can sleep, but as soon as I wake up in the morning, I make myself get up and eat breakfast (even though I don’t want to). I find things to look forward to and remind myself of the positives.

On the positives front, I reminded myself that if I hadn’t ordered blood work for Bas on the Monday and he had undergone anaesthesia there is a good chance he wouldn’t have woken up…

On the “things to look forward to” front, my sister-in-law and I had planned to go to see the movie “IT”. Our plan totally went out to the window and we had to re-arrange it.

Anyway, we ended up booking Gold Class seats at Innaloo for 3:45 on a Friday afternoon. I almost don’t want to let anyone in on our secret, but I seriously think this is the best session you could ever go to.

We got the whole theatre to ourselves (it was awesome to be able to chat to each other throughout the film and I was happy to be able to have my phone one since I was still waiting for the Vet’s to call) and of course, we were able to order champagne, wine and food to be delivered to us throughout the film!

When we got in the theatre, I sat back, champagne in hand, sighed and said, “I’m so happy” …and then stopped myself short.

Could I seriously be happy after everything that had happened that week?

Obviously, I could. Sometimes it’s the little things that can make the biggest difference.

That night, I booked Sam and I in to eat at our favourite restaurant… BWG steakhouse. I thought we just needed to have one evening where we could chill out together, eat our favourite food, drink our favourite wine and talk about… anything other than miscarriages or cats with cancer. So that’s what we did.

And we were OK.

I don’t want to say that what we’re going through is in any way harder than what anyone else is going through (even though sometimes that is how it feels). There are thousands of people who have it much worse than us, and no doubt I am sure there are others who have it better.

Everyone goes through difficult times, and at the very least, life’s problems are all relative anyway… what might be difficult for some isn’t always so difficult for others.

That’s not to say it’s easy for us. It is hard. Every day is hard.

But regardless, there is always a way to make it through, find the positives and create moments to look forward to.
 
PS Just before I go, quietly wanted to say that “IT” isn’t very scary… I actually found it kind of hilarious 😉

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Just Call Me North Korea

Just Call Me North Korea

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Just Call Me North Korea

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Just Call Me North Korea

…Can’t fire an effective missile.

I know, it’s a terrible joke.

And like me, you might be thinking it’s awful, but it’s so hard not to laugh.

"Just call me North Korea..." was the statement my husband Sam used to try and cheer me up after we found out about our fourth miscarriage yesterday (referring to his ability to produce sperm that don't have chromosomal abnormalities).

Obviously, neither the North Korea situation nor our recurrent losses are any kind of laughing matter… but sometimes humour really does help us cope with the shittiest of times (and I'll admit that I did have a good laugh when he said it to me).

If you’re not familiar with our story, this is the fourth miscarriage we have experienced in the last year, and we know that each time we get pregnant, our chances of a successful pregnancy are quite low due to my husbands balanced translocation.

We have both become fairly well adept at dealing with loss this past year, but the loss this time around has really shaken us.

We had our first scan at around 7 weeks, and it was fine. Our measurements were slightly behind schedule, but not enough to cause any kind of worry. For the next 3 weeks, I experienced a considerable amount of morning sickness (let’s call it “all day sickness”), which peaked at about 8.5 weeks and then slowly started to get better each day from there.

You might say that could have been some kind of sign of something being wrong, but honestly, I still had food aversions most evenings and my stomach was getting quite large, so I didn’t have any reason to believe anything was wrong until we went in for our ultrasound yesterday, at what should have been 10 weeks.

Unfortunately we were only measuring 7 weeks, 4 days, and there didn't appear to be a heartbeat.

It’s not as if we didn’t know it might not work out, I think we both just thought that the chances of having 4 losses in a row were surely not all that likely… but alas we were wrong, and we find ourselves dealing with another loss.

A loss is always difficult to take no matter the circumstances, and while it helps to know there’s nothing we can do (not naturally anyway) to control the outcome, it still doesn’t stop us questioning “why us?” and “how is this fair?”

Most times I feel like I have handled the emotional aspect of the losses quite well. I wouldn’t say I’ve been OK, I have obviously been upset and some days I have felt better than others, but over-all I’ve accepted what has happened relatively quickly and been able to move on reasonably well considering the circumstances.

Unfortunately, there is something about this time that I’ve found harder to take than the others.

I don’t know if I had convinced myself that it was going to be OK this time. Or maybe I had spoken to too many other people who had experienced success on their fourth go, and thought maybe we would get lucky too.

I always seem to hold in the back of my mind that I need to have some kind of hope, just in case that tiny bit of faith that “everything will be ok” somehow tips the scales and results in a good outcome.

Is it even possible to “wish” a bad outcome on yourself? I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t want to dismiss the power of positive thinking either.

I also feel like I need to be grateful in some ways. The other alternatives for our situation could have been a stillbirth, a baby that didn’t live for long, or one that did survive, but had severe physical and mental disabilities. If we had made it to the 10 weeks we would have asked for a CVS, and once we found out there was a problem we would have needed to decide whether to terminate for medical reasons or wait to see what would happen... given the choice, I would prefer the outcome we have been dealt over other possibilities.

It still doesn’t make it any easier to take though. I don’t think any amount of reasoning is going to help right now.

To some extent, I am making assumptions. I don’t know for sure that this loss has been due to the balanced translocation until we get the test results back in a month or so. On one hand, I hope it is due to the translocation, at least that way I know there aren’t any new problems.

On the other hand, it would be nice if it wasn’t the translocation, just for the peace of mind that we can create an embryo that doesn’t have an unbalanced translocation (unfortunately we’re not exempt from other types of chromosomal abnormalities, much the same as the odds of 1 in 4 pregnancies ending in loss for the general population, which around 90% of the time is due to chromosomal problems) …but only time will tell I guess.

There’s no point in continuing to run the scenario’s through my head until we know exactly what happened.

On a totally different topic, and last but not least, my state of mind is not being helped by the fact that I took my cat Sebastian to the vet today (for what I thought would be a tooth extraction) only to find he couldn’t have the procedure due to concerns with his blood work… of which they are trying to determine whether he has a thyroid problem (unlikely) or potential liver disease/cancer. I'm hopeful that it's nothing serious, but preparing myself for the worst as it obviously doesn't look good.

Sometimes it feels like we just can’t catch a break?

It’s certainly not doing much to curb my feelings of helplessness at the moment, and even though I know we’re both very resilient and can get through this just like we have so many times before, it’s safe to say we’re both feeling quite defeated, frustrated and upset.

I’d love to end this post on a happy note, but I just don’t have one to share, and I don't see the point in pretending there is one, so I’ll leave it there for now.

Until next time…

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Along the Road to Recovery

Along the Road to Recovery

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Along the Road to Recovery

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Along the Road to Recovery

I mentioned a few weeks back that I was kick starting my recovery from miscarriage number 3 by eating as healthy as possible and getting back into my regular workout routine (it did kind of help that we were heading up to Broome the next week and I really wanted to be “bikini-ready” for sipping those poolside cocktails).

But none the less, that healthy eating and exercise regime went right out the window as soon as I got into holiday mode!

I did try to go running a couple of times while we were away, but it was so freaking hot and humid up there that just a fast-paced walk was almost too much to handle.

So anyway, since we’ve been back, I’ve been kinda-trying to get back into my healthy habits (I am going to the gym and / or working out most days, and eating healthy at least during the week), but I can feel a bit of a cold coming on, starting with a sore throat yesterday morning (seriously, can I just catch a break!?)

Apparently just catching a break isn’t in on the cards, so I’ve decided to soldier on using a different approach.

Do you remember a little while back when I mentioned I was doing daily pregnancy meditations to keep myself calm, relaxed and reduce some of that anxiety I had around our chances of miscarriage?

I really did find they helped, but obviously, doing a pregnancy meditation is not really the kind of thing that’s going to make me feel better right now, so I’ve decided to dig out some of my general guided meditations in order to enjoy the benefits of calming, relaxing and quieting my mind to start each day.

I am hopeful that there will be added benefits for health and wellness too!

I jumped over to our youtube channel and was happy to see I had saved quite a few 10 minute guided meditations in there for future reference.

Here are a couple of my favourites:

Mindfulness Meditation

I often find it difficult to find a voice on meditations that isn’t distracting. I like the voice on this video because it’s soothing and I’m able to follow along quite easily without being distracted by the voice!
I like the specific directions around deep breathing at the start too, it sets the scene well to help get the most out of the meditation.

The other thing I like about this one is that it is exactly what I would expect from a mindfulness meditation, simple in the sense that you can observe your thoughts and let them go… and it talks you through how to do that in a simple and easy to understand format.

Calm Anxiety Meditation

I like this one, as again, I find the voice easy to listen to, and it’s just a really simple and easy to follow meditation, mainly focussing on breathing.

Perfect for calming the mind and reducing any type of anxiety!

Positive Start to The Day Meditation

I love this as it is a little bit different. The focus is more on waking up to start the day as positive as possible, to get the best possible results.

The voice in this one is actually my favourite, but I haven’t included it at the top as it isn’t really a “meditation” as such, it’s just a nice positive inspirational recording to listen to first thing in the morning and start your day well!

Lastly, I just want to include one more… I haven’t tried this one myself yet, but I stumbled across it this morning and it looks interesting (I don’t know about the voice but… I like the sound of the concept) so I’m going to give this one a try this week as well:

Positive Thinking Endorphin Meditation with Positive Affirmations

If you would like to check out some of the other guided meditations I’ve used, head over to our youtube playlist and check it out. I have tried each one in the list before, and they are all around 10 minutes each, so it doesn’t take a lot of time out of your day!

If I stumble across any other good ones, I’ll add them to the list (I often try new ones, but it’s not very often I find one I like!)

Anyway, I’ll be interested to see what kind of results I get from trying one of these meditations each day for one week.

If all goes well (and if I’m feeling up to it) I might even see if I can seek out some pre-pregnancy type meditations and start to work on a new list.

Until next time…
 


Before you go, have you or someone you know experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or infertility? Throughout the month of October, we will be sharing stories to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with these "taboo" topics. Check out this post for more info on how you can share your story.



Looking for child behaviour strategies? Click here to access to all our strategies from infancy through to the teenage years. Make sure you register here first!

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Good News and Bad News

Good News and Bad News

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Good News and Bad News

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Good News and Bad News

We had our miscarriage follow-up appointment last week and were met with good and bad news…

The good news is that the embryo testing indicated that there was an unbalanced translocation on chromosome 1 again (ie it had an extra piece of chromosome 21 on it) which resulted in the miscarriage (if you’re wondering why that’s good news, it’s because no new problems were found, which means we feel a little more confident that this is what is causing the miscarriages… and we’re happy there isn’t a new problem).

The bad news… we’re just so freaking unlucky to have hit that chromosome combo 3 times in a row.

Our OB suggested we head to Kalgoorlie and play some two-up…

Which, was kind of funny, because Sam was actually about to head to Kalgoorlie, and I had been joking with a couple of people about wanting to just stand there and flip 2 coins over and over again for a while just to see exactly how hard it is to get one particular combo 3 times in a row.

So… it’s back to square 1 for us again now.

We had the “should we do IVF” conversation again and decided we’ll just try our luck for a bit longer…

I am conscious of my age (31 and counting already, yikes!) and I was a bit worried about the aging of my eggs.

I asked my OB whether it would be worth freezing some just in case we decide do to IVF down the track (my thought was that I wanted them to be as “young” as possible in that scenario in order to avoid other future potential problems associated with aging eggs), but we were basically advised that the cost of retrieval and freezing is about the same as IVF, so probably best to just do IVF if we’re thinking along those lines.

I did wonder “but what if I get to 38 or so and decide then than I want to do IVF and realise I could have had my younger, healthier eggs in holding all along…” to which my OB just gave me a reality check saying he didn’t think I would be likely to go that long without making the decision to go down the IVF path… fair call I say!

So, I guess we will just wait and see what happens.

Fortunately for us, the “getting pregnant” part of things seems to happen fairly quickly, so I’m hopeful we might have some luck in the near future.

Until then I’ll be semi-hoping for a pregnancy and semi-not-hoping for one all at the same time, as I know what it’s like to go through the happy/sad/anxious/stressed/whatwasithinking cycle associated with recurrent miscarriage over and over again.

But, I guess you win some you lose some. If you don’t try, you can’t succeed, right? So, I’ll just try to hold on to that little mantra for now.

Until next time…
 


Before you go, have you or someone you know experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or infertility? Throughout the month of October, we will be asking for people to share their story to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with these "taboo" topics. Check out this post for more info on how you can share your story.



Looking for child behaviour strategies? Click here to access to all our strategies from infancy through to the teenage years. Make sure you register here first!

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One in Four – The Exclusive Club No-One Wants to be Part Of

One in Four - The Exclusive Club No-One Wants to be Part Of

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"One in Four" The Exclusive Club No-One Wants to be Part Of

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"One in Four" The Exclusive Club No-One Wants to be Part Of

You might be surprised to learn that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage.

You probably know more than a few people who have experienced one.

These people are your close friends, your relatives, your sister, your aunt, your best friend. The lady in the shops who looks so sad, but can’t tell anyone because that’s just not what you do in times like these.

You probably don’t know about the pain these women and men are experiencing, or the fact they are even experiencing it, because many of these people feel as though they cannot share their pain, or their stories of loss.

Some people want to, but don’t know how.

Other people have shared, and found it made others feel so awkward or uncomfortable, that they decided never to speak of it again.

Some of us feel so guilty about the fact that we experienced this loss, that we blame ourselves, and fear others will blame us too if we ever get up the nerve to mention it.

Then there are others, who keep talking about it anyway, because they hope to reduce the stigma associated with pregnancy loss.

Those of us who KNOW we’re not alone, that we didn’t cause this tragic event to occur, that we can make a difference by being open and honest about our experiences, and help each other cope through these difficult times.

Although we know that people simply just can’t understand unless they have experienced a loss this significant. A silent loss that’s difficult to explain because you can’t physically see it or hold onto it.

A loss that is only in your imagination, mourning for a tiny little person you never met, who never existed in this world, that you get to spend every single day of the rest of your life wondering if they would have had his eyes, your smile and a mixture of both your personalities.

A person who you had hopes and dreams for, that you planned your life around.

Who then made you change all those plans, because they never quite made it into those dreams you created for them.

Unfortunately, people see an early pregnancy loss as less significant in some ways, because it’s just an embryo, it may even be a fetus, or it may not have even made it to that stage.

But for the people living the loss, it isn’t any of those things.

When you find out you’re pregnant, you tell your partner, and maybe some other close friends and relatives, if you so choose, that you’re having a “baby” and from then on, that is what you imagine in your mind, and that is what you make plans for.

So when you lose a pregnancy, no matter at what stage, you’re losing a baby, and all the plans and dreams that you had attached to that baby.

And that’s what I think people don’t understand.

It’s not just a physical pain, it’s an intense, emotional level of silenced grief that you cannot explain, physically demonstrate or completely understand unless you have lived it yourself.

You’ve suddenly joined a silenced club of “1 in 4”. An exclusive club that so many others are part of, wondering around in every day of their lives, oblivious to the millions of other people who are also walking around in this silenced club.

But, this club doesn’t have to be silent.

I am hopeful that we can raise awareness, and break down the barriers of silence associated with miscarriage, pregnancy loss, still birth and infertility.

Over here in Australia, there is an “unofficial” day of recognition in October for people who have experienced pregnancy loss.

In honour of this day of recognition, as an attempt to raise awareness, we will invite people to share their stories of miscarriage, pregnancy loss, still birth and infertility.

All stories are welcome, and all submissions will be published on our website (anonymously if people wish to do so). We would love to hear some stories with good outcomes to help give a little hope too!

Together we can raise awareness, reduce the stigma, help others recognise just how common these experiences of loss are, and I hope, show that is it OK to talk about loss and support one another through these difficult times.

If you’re interested in sharing your story, email me at info@ohbeehave.com.au or fill out the get in touch form on our website if you prefer to share your story anonymously.

We might not be able to revoke our memberships from this exclusive club none of us wants to be part of, but it doesn’t mean our club has to be bound by silence.
 


Photo Credit: Ammon Creative

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