Anxiety · Change · Counselling · Experience · infertility · Lifestyle · PCOS · Self Acceptance

Anxiety Strikes!

I’d say I’ve always been an anxious person & I used to feel real bouts of anxiety, but mainly over social situations. As time has gone on I’d say my anxieties have evolved into more small but constant worries, especially since our battle with infertility.

Over the past two weeks I’d say this constant niggle is getting worse & I know exactly why, it’s because I’ve got something big coming up, but people who see me in my day-to-day life won’t know that. They’ll probably see me fussing over something small or, if they look closely, using compulsive repetition to regain some degree of control in my life. I’m also finding that smaller problems feel like mountains because my stress threshold is very low right now.

The funny thing is, I’m 100% aware of what I’m doing & how I’m feeling, but that doesn’t mean I can stop it. However, next week I have an appointment with my counsellor & I’m hoping to get some more tips on how to manage my symptoms of anxiety.

Life is tough right now, I’ve got a lot of weight on my shoulders that I could do without, but I’m learning that small changes now will help alleviate the pressure in the future & the smaller problems I encounter will become more manageable.

I’ve always felt a natural instinct to fight my feelings of anxiety, but lately I’ve learnt that you have to let them pass. So in my eyes I need to work on solutions to the problems I’m worrying about in order to prevent the symptoms I encounter rather than just focusing on those & adding to the weight on my shoulders… because essentially I end up worrying about how much I’m worrying!

xx Gem xx

Advertisements
Anxiety · Counselling · Experience · fertility · infertility · Lifestyle · Love · miscarriage · PCOS · ttc

Am I ready?

So, 6 months ago we embarked upon the next stage of our journey… the IUI. I remember being so excited yet nervous, but I jumped in with both feet first & I like to think I smashed the process with massive positivity fists!

When we miscarried our baby I didn’t even want to think about trying again. I wanted that baby, my first baby… nothing else would ever compare, but they say time is a great healer & in most part it is.

I’ll never get over what happened, so when I spoke to my counsellor she said “stop trying to get over this, you just need to move forward”. Getting over something feels, to me, that I should be forgetting it whereas moving forward feels different… so here we are, mid-September & patiently waiting for my next cycle to start so we can do the whole thing all over again. But the big question is…

…am I ready?

The answer to that is a hazy one. I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% ready, I still mourn the loss of our baby, but I know I must try… I owe it to our little one not to give up, I owe it to my husband & most of all I owe it to myself.

xx Gem xx

Anxiety · Change · Experience · infertility · Lifestyle · miscarriage · PCOS

Wellness Wednesday

Life has been a complete rollercoaster for us this year & over the past couple of months I’ve come to realise that I’ve changed… a lot.

In a good way or a bad way?

Well, let’s look at the negatives. Since I last wrote a blog post, we miscarried our miracle baby at 10 weeks & since then I can only describe myself as living life with a broken heart. This has taken its toll on my marriage, my social life & my job… oh, & not to mention my health!

But gliding past the negatives, I do have the ability to find the positives…

We actually made a baby. That is our big positive. Our dream came true & I will forever be grateful for that. Also, with the time I’ve had off work it’s given me a moment to realise how my job has evolved into something I no longer love.

So, out of this I have found the ability to put myself first. I mean I always thought I did, but I didn’t… in reality, I didn’t, but I can only see that now. Things need to change…

Welcome to Wellness Wednesday, my day off during the week where I get to put myself first. Of course it doesn’t always work out that way, I end up doing housework & babysitting, but I now feel I have the confidence to say NO if I want to. Don’t get me wrong, I love a clean house & I get a lot of enjoyment from spending time with children, but every now & again I need to just be me & that is 100% ok.

Change · Clomid · Counselling · Experience · fertility · infertility · Lifestyle · PCOS · Self Acceptance · ttc

Babies Here, Babies There, Babies Everywhere!

It’s one of those things… like when a friend says they’re getting a new car which you’ve never heard of before, so they show you and suddenly you start seeing them everywhere. Parked on the street. Passing you on the road. Pulling up next to you in the supermarket. To me, and a vast majority of women trying to conceive, that’s exactly what it’s like with babies.

At first it was ok, sometimes frustrating to see other people having what I wanted, but I told myself that my time would come soon. That lasted a little while until the desperation started to kick in and along came the bitterness towards others with a family, pregnant women and new Mums pushing their little bundles of joy around the park in a brand new shiny pram. I just felt so alone. Every pregnancy announcement on social media was met with a huff and a rolling of the eyes. I started to avoid friends with children or those who were expecting one. I felt it was a dark time for me.

I feel I must point out though that never once did I wish that these people around me didn’t have what they have… it was purely envy over what they had, and a reminder of what I didn’t.

The cherry on top of the cake was when my best friend got pregnant. It suddenly felt so close to home, this wasn’t just someone I knew, this was my BEST FRIEND. This was having to go through her pregnancy with her. This was having to come to terms with the fact that she was getting what I wanted and so far my attitude towards people with this was bitter… and I couldn’t afford to have bitterness between myself and one of my oldest and dearest friends.

I cranked up the frequency of my counselling sessions and searched desperately for a way to drag myself out of this dark place. I had to use avoidance to start with. It pained me, but it was necessary. I then realised I had good days and bad days. There were days where I would want to soak up every ounce of pregnancy happiness, no matter that it wasn’t me experiencing it physically, then I had other days where I felt if anyone mentioned the word ‘pregnant’ to me I might just punch them in the face. It wasn’t a pretty time for me and I felt it was a very ugly version of myself.

THEN…

… about a month before my best friend was due, she went on maternity leave. We started to see a little more of each other on my days off and whilst out walking one day it hit me like a tonne of bricks – my best friend is having a baby that I get to cuddle, that I get to play with, that I get to laugh and joke and fall in love with. I even feel a bit teary now writing this, but that moment for me was an absolute game changer and has been my saving grace in how I now cope with infertility. Yes I have a deep desire for my own children, but in the meantime I get to explore and learn more about them and also have some extra time to mentally prepare myself for what the next chapter will bring… because there WILL be a next chapter, it may not come about in the way we would like, but we will have our family one day.

I feel extremely lucky to have been able to pull myself out of that dark place and nuzzle myself deep into a positive state of mind. It sounds silly, but some days I feel so full of positive energy that I could physically explode. It’s kind of a bizarre state to be in, but I’m telling myself after being so negative for so long that I deserve a positivity overdose… it can’t hurt right?! I wish I had the recipe of my revelation to share with you all, to help those struggling with infertility cope with watching others experiencing your dreams, but I’m afraid I don’t. Whether it was the counselling or just that I simply couldn’t contain any more negativity, I have no idea… but I am so thankful to have found the strength to keep pushing forward, to keep my head in the game and to welcome any new challenges with a smile and determination.

This is MY life I am living, I do not want to spend it in a cloud of bad vibes and to look back one day to find I have regrets.

Anxiety · Experience · fertility · infertility · Lifestyle · PCOS · ttc

The Two Week Wait

For those who aren’t familiar with this phrase, it’s pretty clear you’re not trying for a baby. Since we started trying, I’ve opened up a whole new dictionary of words and phrases I never knew existed. At first it felt like everyone was communicating in another language, devised especially for those in the baby making business, but soon I caught on and found myself up to my eyes in acronyms and general trying-to-conceive gibberish.

So, in a nutshell, the ‘two week wait’ is the approximate waiting time between ovulation and finding out if you’re pregnant. For some women it is simply two weeks. Two weeks of normal every day life and either a ‘yay’ or a ‘nay’ at the end of it. For other women time comes almost to a halt,o not enough to actually stop time, but just enough to make every day seem like a year. Then there’s the handful of us who experience the latter and are graced with the crippling reality of infertility.

Hi… yep, me over here. I’m in the club! The infertility club. Should we make some badges or something? I bet they would sell! Not only am I in the club, but I am also four days into my two week wait. So, I thought I would share with you what I’m doing over the week or so… which brings me to my first point:

Keep Busy

There is nothing worse than letting your mind go nuts over wondering what you’re little egg is doing… every single minute of every single day! Just as I am doing right now, right at this moment, I am keeping myself busy. My diary is packed with coffee dates, activities and work to keep my mind occupied. When I find myself without something to do, I lose myself in a box set or a book. I need to keep my mind going. That doesn’t mean that I’m not thinking about it, but I am allowing myself not to obsess over it.

Take Care Of Your Body

This month I am focusing on the foods I eat. I have read many articles and have been told by lots of women to eat warm foods during these couple of weeks. Apparently, by keeping the body warm it makes the uterus more inviting for your little embryo. A lot of women choose to take a multitude of supplements and I recently found myself almost in a state of panic at Holland and Barrett, trying to figure out what to take and what didn’t make my bank account weep. Instead I chose to look closely at the food types I am consuming. I have fallen victim to the old wives tale about pineapple and am scoffing a concoction of nuts and seeds every day to ensure I am feeding my body in the correct way, and that’s good enough for me for now. Some of you may object to what I’m doing, some of you may have good proven scientific evidence that what I’m doing is utter tosh, but to me and my mind, I am doing what I feel comfortable with and that’s all that matters. Also, they say it’s good to take any exercise down a notch. Switch your HIIT workouts for yoga, with some that specialise in fertility, and go for long brisk walks rather than running.

Don’t Symptom Spot

Haahaahaahaa! Ahahaha! Ha! Yeah right, who on earth can honestly say they don’t symptom spot? NOT ME! That’s for sure. Every sore nipple, every twinge in my pelvis and every bit of cervical mucus is mentally documented and analysed. I can’t help it, I feel like I’m programmed to do it… but that’s it, nothing more. Once it’s been noted, forget it. A lot of the typical pregnancy symptoms are also PMS symptoms, so the only definitive way of knowing that you’re pregnant is to wait and see those two juicy lines on a test. It’s good to know what your body is doing, but for reference only. I can’t allow myself to obsess for days over that tiny bit of nausea I felt three days ago, it’s just not healthy for my mind.

Get Support

If you haven’t spoken to anyone about your journey so far, I would urge you to… no matter how far along you are into it. It reeeeeeeeeally helps to have someone to talk to, to shout at or to cry with. Emotions can be high, after all our bodies are naturally gearing up for a pregnancy each month just by producing that egg… whether you choose to fertilise it or not. Also, something you may find absolutely absurd could be absolutely normal. So it’s good to talk, it’s good to share and it’s good to know you’re not alone.

Believe In Yourself

This is something that has only recently come to light for me. Each month I end up telling myself that this isn’t going to work, that I am broken and that it hasn’t happened until now so why should this month be any different. Wow… what a bitch! Would I talk to a friend that way? NO! So why do I think it’s acceptable to talk to myself like this. I think its because I’m trying to protect myself from the heartache of another negative test. I need my body to believe that it CAN happen, so I’ve made a deal with my mind that this month I will believe that I am fully capable of making and growing a baby. My uterus IS inviting. My hormones ARE able to handle it. Positivity is key!

So yeah, that’s what I’m doing with my time and so be it if it comes round every month…

Clomid · Counselling · Experience · fertility · infertility · Lifestyle · PCOS · ttc

Third Time Not So Lucky

Our third round of Clomid failed. We were so sure this month was our month. We did everything right, everything was perfectly timed and plenty of it too! I had a follicle tracking scan on day 12 of my cycle which showed a nice juicy follicle measuring 25mm, with another at 15mm and would you believe another at 11mm… my body really responds to this tiny little pill! I was ready to pop and with an imminent weekend away with Hubs we had no doubt that this was our month.

Well, what a load of shit that was.

I am writing to you on day two of a very painful, heavy and clot-filled period. At this moment in time I couldn’t feel any more low, depressed and exhausted. Three months of constant hormone alterations have worn me down. I worked so hard for months and months to get myself into a better mental state; I paid privately for counselling, I made sure I used positive exercises to lift me up and I roped in Hubs to identify times when I was struggling and get me back to the counsellor for a top up session. I was in a great place both physically and mentally… then came Clomid.

Hand on heart, I completely underestimated the power of this tiny tablet. I thought that taking the lowest dose for five days would be a breeze. I had the belief that because it was only 50mg, the lowest dose I was offered, it couldn’t possibly give me all of the side effects that countless women have coined as giving you the ‘Clomid crazies’. Well, the truth is that my body responded to the medication, so no matter what dose I was taking, I was getting those side effects. The hot flushes I could deal with, the thirst was no problem, even the odd mood swing was manageable… but after a while they started to become tough. My reactions to things became heightened… I wasn’t just sad, I was depressed; I wasn’t just happy, I was ecstatic; I wasn’t just angry, I was furious; and I wasn’t just tired, I was exhausted.

I still am.

I feel like I have lost myself right now, but I do see a tiny little glimmer of the true Gemma coming back through. I don’t know where she’s been or how long she’ll take to come back, but as soon as that period started something inside me shifted. The version of me I’ve been lately has been the one I used to be. I couldn’t handle my emotions and struggled through for years, so to come back to this place has been bloody scary. Of course, it’s not just this, it’s the fact that it’s still not working. Why aren’t we getting pregnant? I want to run to my doctor and stamp my feet, I want to scream at her and order her to make this work. Life isn’t like that of course, but this is JUST. NOT. FAIR. I toggle between anger and sadness over it, two very exhausting states of mind to be in.

Anyway, this month we’re having a Clomid break, timed perfectly not only for my own sanity but also to enable me to have a Hysterosalpingogram (HSG). This is where a dye is flushed through your fallopian tubes to see if they’re clear and possibly help clear them if partially blocked. I have done some research and am fully aware that a lot of women continue to take Clomid during this time, but I think after speaking to my Consultant at the Fertility Clinic about the way I am feeling, she felt it was time for a break. We have a follow up appointment next month where we will discuss the results and talk about the next step…

…you see there is always a next step.

Clomid · Experience · fertility · infertility · Lifestyle · PCOS · ttc

If at first you don’t succeed, try again…

… but what if you keep failing? It's so tough having to pick myself up each month, put on a brave smile & try again. I am writing this in my current head fog… the state of mind that kind of sets a crown of cloud around my head & binds me to my emotions. It will lift & I will feel back to my usual bouncy nothing-can-stop-me self… but for now I'm left wandering around aimlessly asking myself how on earth can I muster up the strength for another round.

So to bring you up to speed, rounds 1 & 2 of Clomid have failed us. The first month was really rough – it destroyed me physically; I was exhausted, my immune system took a hit, I developed an awful cold & I lost myself for a little while. We had a follicle tracking scan on CD11 which showed four follicles starting to mature. We were told to hold off from trying & I was rescanned on CD15, which thankfully showed three follicles had become dormant & one big fat juicy follicle was just fit to burst… the only problem was Hubs was away & with no sperm in the pipe to catch that little eggy we quite possibly missed it.

I was apprehensive about starting round 2 due to how rough it made me feel, but after feeling our fail was probably down to a timing issue we powered on through. To my surprise I had no side effects whatsoever! I was full of energy, back to regular exercise & on top of the world full of hope that this would be our month. We timed everything perfectly… we couldn't have got any more textbook "sperm meets egg plan"! We were on it! About a week into the two week wait, I started to see evident symptoms of ovulation for a second time this cycle… so I tested with an ovulation predictor kit (OPK) & I had a line. It wasn't entirely positive by any means, but it threw me. We hadn't been given the option for a scan so we had to anxiously wait, which turned into a few extra days than normal, & was met with an extremely painful, heavy & heartbreaking period.

Had I built myself up too much? Was it just all the hormones? Who knows… I will bounce back, I always do, but right now I have no idea when that might be. I want to hide away under my duvet & leave the world to keep on spinning around me whilst I wait for my head to sort itself out. Unfortunately I can't & as we find ourselves at CD2 I am bracing myself for round 3 this evening. I tend to take my tablets at night in an attempt to bypass any immediate symptoms by sleeping through them.

So, please take a moment to wish us luck in the hope that round 3 is the one for us! I have a scan booked for CD12 this month after speaking to my clinic about the frustrations over ovulation… will keep you posted!

xx Gem xx

Anxiety · Change · Clomid · Counselling · Experience · fertility · infertility · Lifestyle · PCOS

Blog Blog Blog

Someone brought my blog to my attention the other day… I really wanted to make a go of it, but just after I renewed my subscription a friend told me they didn’t think a blog would suit me. I stupidly took it to heart and stopped. Flash forward 6 months and finding myself faced with lots of ups and downs in life I’ve decided to dust off my keyboard and give it another bash. Who knows what will come of it… but even if no one reads it, I always find that writing things down proves to be a useful outlet for me.

Bringing you up to speed on what’s going on in my life right now… I am currently in the middle of my first round of fertility treatment. It sounds scary, but it’s only tablets. Clomifene (Clomid) to be specific. I want to do a post all about it, but for the moment I thought best not to start with such intensity.

I’ve always tried to keep my desire to have children on the back burner, it makes those negative tests slightly easier to deal with, but now we’re receiving help from the Fertility Clinic I feel I am able to let my hopes run wild… well, ish. It is extremely difficult to struggle with infertility. I sometimes feel I am such a ‘newb’ when it comes down to it as there are so many women out there going through way more than I am, but at the end of the day we all have our individual journeys. I can be such a pain in the bum when it comes to comparing myself to others, I always make myself feel inferior and that in itself doesn’t do anything for my self esteem. I started to notice a while back that I was becoming quite mentally ugly when it came to pregnancy… hear me out: can anyone relate to scrolling through facebook, seeing a pregnancy announcement and rolling your eyes? Or how about unfollowing people you like on social media because they’ve become pregnant and you can’t handle it? And here’s maybe the biggest one of all… not being able to be around your friends because seeing them happy with their babies makes it feel like someone has stabbed you in the heart with a rusty spike?

That is not the type of person I would ever aspire to be… but I already was. It crept upon me without notice and one day I took a long look in the mirror and decided enough was enough. I signed myself up for some counselling sessions and over several months I worked through my issues. Now, if you’re considering doing this and haven’t yet found the courage to, please let me give you that nudge to go for it… don’t expect immediate results, it takes time to form a bond with someone, but just giving 100% focus on myself for an hour every few weeks really did me the world of good. I have learnt to associate positivity with pregnancy. I choose to see each pregnancy announcement as another iron-clad piece of proof that I can remain to hope that this will happen for me. After several months of counselling I was ‘set free’ and if I choose to, which I have on a few occasions already, I just arrange a ‘top up’ session. Easy peasy! In fact, I have a session in the morning!

That’s probably enough rambling on for now, but if you’re keen to follow how my Clomid cycle is going, please head on over to my Instagram page.

Change · Experience · Lifestyle · PCOS · Self Acceptance

Don’t Let PCOS Define You

Hands up, who finds it easier to understand what they're going through when you've been diagnosed with something? That sweet relief of being able to put a name to your particular struggles and instantly start searching the internet to find solace in the similar experience of others. We've all been there, but what if that diagnosis turns into definition?

In June 2015 when the doctor first told me I had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome I felt like my world was collapsing around me. I had no idea what it meant for me and my future. I was haunted by the word 'syndrome' and it left me feeling very lost and confused. Luckily I found a great community on Instagram and immediately became addicted to scouring PCOS hashtags and feeding on other women's experiences. Suddenly I wasn't alone! I found myself amongst a sea of women across the world and I felt at ease.

As my wealth of knowledge expanded, so did my obsession. I became convinced that I was yet to experience a multitude of symptoms that I was discovering and so I got stuck into learning about what foods to avoid, what foods would help my body, which exercises were best, when to do them, how to do them, etc, etc. Then came the guilt. If I missed a workout or ate the 'wrong' type of food I would blame every painful negative pregnancy test on my bad judgement. This guilt weighed heavily on my shoulders and it started to distort my view of my marriage and my self worth as a woman. It honestly felt to me, and don't get me wrong I still do feel this way sometimes, that I will never be able to have children.

That's a big statement to make.

Back in October I started having some counselling sessions. I am very proud of myself for being able to see that I needed an outlet such as this in my life and I really can't speak highly enough of the experience. It's opened my eyes up to myself and my surroundings. Currently on my Instagram feed I have lost count of how many women with PCOS or other fertility related issues have fallen pregnant. Yes sometimes it's hard to see pregnancy announcements, but these are all women who at some point would have felt exactly how I feel and to see that they have beaten the odds gives me great hope that someday I will too!

The New Year also brings hoards of newly diagnosed women to seek solace in social media and I welcome them with open arms. I remember feeling how they felt and I can see a similarity in their posts to mine back when I was first diagnosed. We are each on our own journey and need to go through this experience to gain a better understanding of the cards we've been dealt. That's perfectly ok, but don't let this become you. There is no right or wrong, we are all individuals and likely to experience something very different to the woman next in line. PCOS can be a struggle, but PCOS is not me… I am me.

xx Gem xx

Change · Experience · Lifestyle · Love · PCOS · Self Acceptance

New Year, New You

It’s that time of year that gives one licence to start afresh. Even though the clocks have only ticked forward a mere second, the notion of this time passing brings much inspiration to many people to change their mentality towards themselves. Three weeks on I am still thoroughly enjoying riding the wave of everyone’s newfound enthusiasm for healthy eating and exercise regimes. However, for the first time I haven’t felt the need to set resolutions for myself because I feel I am already where I want to be. No, I am not at my goal weight and no we are still not pregnant, but I am content with the way I look at myself and that really was what I was striving for all along… I just didn’t know it at the time!

Self acceptance is not easy to come by. You have to go on an incredible journey to find it and just when you think you have, it disappears right from your finger tips. Most of the time I look at myself and I see a happy woman, someone who is so appreciative for what she has in life and dreams of what the future holds for her. Then, for what has dominated most of my life but is currently hiding away in the box I keep buried at the back of my mind, is the bitch that society over the past three decades has moulded me into. I’ve spent the last year taming this part of me and learning how to be kind to myself. The thing is, I think there will always be something inside that has the desire to rip myself apart, so there is no New Year resolution but to simply continue along my journey.

Whatever you decide to do this year, don’t forget to look upon yourself with kind eyes. We are only human and we are incredible beings. I am a firm believer in lifting each other up instead of tearing each other down, but sometimes I forget to apply this belief when I look upon myself.

xx Gem xx