The Mother’s Story


She wasn’t there for the longest time, the mother in me. She hid in the shadows, filled with fear. The pill bought her the security she needed when she knew it wasn’t her time…

I didn’t want kids. I was a career woman, perfectly content perusing my dreams, and not doing a bad job of it either.

Then I met my partner. He didn’t think he could have children (let’s just say he’s accident prone). He told me early on in our relationship and it was never a problem. 

Then, a year or so later we decided, what the hell, why not, let’s give it a go, see what happens. We made a plan. I was to give up my successful career working behind the scenes in tv and retrain as a teacher. The London commute wasn’t something we felt would work well with little people on our hands. We would renovate our flat and buy a nice home with a big garden.

And so it was. A year later I was qualified and my pill was binned. We moved soon after.

School was stressful. My health deteriorated. I knew something was wrong. After we moved we registered with a new Doctor who immediately sent me for blood tests. Hypothyroid. Excellent, a reason for not getting pregnant. We’d been trying for almost a year. My Doctor is thorough. ‘Best send you for more checks to make sure  you’re okay and no damage has been done.’

 Another year. That’s how long it took. Scans and X-rays and blood tests. Temping, ovulation kits, herbs, vitamins and Accupuncture featured in between. I’d worked out I was estrogen dominant but my Doctor simply said something along the lines of… ‘Everything looks okay, your progesterone is inconsistent but not a problem. However, your partners sperm isn’t it’s best. IVF for you.’ I knew it!

How could I be a teacher, have this much stress in my life and have successful IVF? Surrounded by children all day. Greeting parents in the playground. Dealing with social services and the parents who couldn’t parent. Why did they get to have children and I didn’t? Insert childish ‘it’s not fair strop here!’ That wasn’t going to happen. I kept saying I was going to leave, as much as I didn’t want to I knew I had to. 

We had chosen our clinic and I had our referral.  Randomly one day, it hit me. It was real. It was happening. That’s when I did it. One sunny day in January. I was to leave at Easter. As much as they wanted me to stay, tried to convince me to stay. I couldn’t. I would be leaving the teacher in me behind.

Back to tv I went. The relief was immense. The commute didn’t matter anymore, my health did. The flexibility of my job and the autonomy to work to my own schedule (within reason) with the trust I would get my tasks done was a relief. I didn’t have to tell anyone what was going on. I just got on with doing my job…

And the IVF! 

We had our first round that spring but it was unsuccessful despite excellent egg retrieval numbers (20) fertilisation numbers (16) and good quaility embryos (4bc). But there were things which signalled trouble, that should have been addressed (Elvis) but weren’t…

Work was intense and I was loving it so we took a break from ttc and I went back on the pill for a couple of months whilst we were filming. 

Come January I was staff again and was to enjoy the security of a permenant job and all the benefits the come along with, like maternity leave. That was the green flag I needed to try again.

The second round of IVF went well but reflecting back should have gone very differently . Elvis had moved in and my left ovary was struggling. He was a result of a more complex internal disease that should have been delt with previously…. Endometriosis. Discovering his size was too little (or in his case big) too late as I’d already started my stims. There was no going back. Despite his presence the right ovary did well and we still got a good number of eggs (11) despite not being able to reach those on the left as Elvis blocked he way. 9 of these fertilised but my little 3bb didn’t stick.

Our IVF journey was over.

Now it was time to deal with Elvis. He had to be evicted. My fertility clinic had to refer me back to my Doctor who had to refer me back to my gynocologyst who would then do further tests and a surgery. By July Elvis had left the building and I was left to unpick everything that had happened. To analyse and doubt my decisions. To question my choice of clinic, my treatment and fight for my justice, for my right to be a mother. 

I learnt the hard way to question Doctors, to analyse their every choice. To ask for what I wanted. But now I do.

Now I am on my own. Making myself better. 

I sometimes wonder if it was written in the stars, my battle. A fate for me sealed at a very young age. 

My mother, who judged my neighbours when I was a child because they needed IVF, back when it was new, said something horrible about it. What I don’t recall. But I remember thinking, even at such a young age, that I would too ‘now you’ve said that!’

Then I forgot. Until ‘Maybe Baby’ which I watched at the cinema. Sitting there thinking ‘I’m going to have to jab myself with needles if I want kids. I can’t be dealing with that.’ I think that’s when I decided I didn’t want them.

Fast forward a decade or so. The pill is in the bin and ‘if we don’t do it this month we’ll never get pregnant!’ Did my own words curse me? Did I cast some kind of spell on myself? Did I ‘just know?’

Was she hiding in fear, the mother in me? Not fear of having children but of not having them. Was that why I didn’t want them? Because she knew we could never have them?

There are other ways I know and who knows what is to come. 

I don’t know if my journey is over. It may only just have begun.

All I know is whenever I try to leave the mother behind, when I think I have, she is still there, doing what all good mothers do, watching and waiting for when she is needed.

Letting go of 5k Jo

I want to be fit.

I want to go to the gym three days a week.

I want to run 5k easily.

I want to run 10k easily.

I want to be strong.

I want to do fifty sit ups.

I want to do fifty squats.

I want to leg press 50lbs.

But…

 I want my brain back.

I want my hair to stop falling out.

I want my skin to clear up again.

I want to stop feeling tired by 3pm.

I need to stop. I need to be responsible for my health. I need to understand that sometimes exercise isn’t good for you.

My symptoms scream thyroid.

So I googled. Exercise and hypothyroid. I have found an interesting medical study which could explain why my symptoms have returned.

http://www.nel.edu/26-2005_6_pdf/NEL260605A14_Ciloglu.pdf 

Basically, if you exercise at over 70% of your maximum heart rate, as I did on a daily basis, it can stop your body from producing enough T3. Your body also produces more cortisol as a stress response as it does not recognise the difference between life stress and exercise stress and we know cortisol is bad for the thyroid.

I need to stop for my thyroid. I need to see if my symptoms go as my T3 stores build back up.

But…

I have to stop because the gym at work is closing. Perhaps the world is trying to help me?

And…

I have to stop as the mother demands it. The mother demands my hormones to be stable. The mother demands my health to be at its best. The mother demands a chance.

So, sorry 5k Jo. It’s time to let you go. At least for now…

Racing for Life!

Cancer ResearchPhoto from: https://raceforlifeshop.cancerresearchuk.org/

Last week was a big week for me.

The previous week, in one of my moments of crazy, when I was asked if I fancied doing a Race For Life, I surprised both myself and my family by replying with ‘Yeah, why not.’

Gym day Tuesday I challenged myself to run the 5k, even though 3k was the most I’d ever done, twice. Another surprise, I pretty much did it, floundering at 3.7k, I took a minute to walk and recover and then carried on, all at a pace of between 9 and 10 on the treadmill. Finished in 33mins. Not bad for a first go.

For the next two days my legs ached so I focused on muscle training rather than running with high incline power walks and high speed cycling.

Friday was spent walking around a shopping centre and Saturday was a rest day.

Runday Sunday came – with the Sun. A roasting 30•c!

My group included children. I expected to be walking most of the way. Luckily the youngest member of the group wanted to run and bless her, she did, for the first 1k, I was so impressed. We jogged for a bit further but the heat was getting to the other kids. Luckily another member of the group knew how important it was to me to try to do this run and told me to go on.

I hit the 2 k mark at a good pace but the heat was intense. I could feel my ears and nose burning. By 2.5k I had slowed to a jog and had to walk occasionally to drink my rapidly depleting water. I didn’t let myself walk for longer than a minute. I ran in the sun and was only allowed to walk in shaded bits of the course where there was no spectators. Little rules and determination kept me going. I barely walked at all. I didn’t even notice 3k and before I knew it I was at 4.

The home stretch!

A final min walk so I could finish at a good pace, I don’t think I lasted the minute. I was too excited. I soon crossed the line. I didn’t even stop, I was so happy. I grabbed my medal and a bottle of water (they didn’t give any out around the course which I found shocking) and found our group. I was so hot. Ice packs were put down my top,  and I grabbed a freezing cold smoothie from our ice box.

Relief!

Then, it occurred to me, I didn’t even know the time. How fast was I?

45mins ish, wow. I’m pretty impressed with that given that it was my first ever actual run, not on a treadmill, keeping my own pace, knowing the start was slow.

Now I was proud and happy. I’d done it. In fact, I’d do it again.

Hello 5K Jo.

Best get training.

The Tower

I wrote this today, imagining the horror, smelling the aftermath as I exited the tube. I felt so sad. I live with sorrow for all that is lost and hope for all that is yet to be found, proud of our heroes and of people coming together, ashamed that it could possibly have been prevented.

The Tower

The smell hangs in the air

Burnt plastic is pungent

Yet no smoke rises

Hungry flames extinguished

People no longer stop and stare

All that remains is the shell

Black and hollow

Ravaged and silent

Screaming in sadness

Reminding us of the hell

From 3 minutes to 3k

Man running in a gym on a treadmill concept for exercising, fitness and healthy lifestyleToday I’m feeling proud of myself.

When I first started going to the gym I could barely run 3 minutes without the ankle giving me trouble. Now it’s a very different story.

I worked up to 10 minutes, running at 9.0 (whatever that is). Then I worked up to 9.5 and then did 11 mins.

Today I set the machine for Heart Rate, 11 mins @ 9.5.

The treadmill turned. 9.5, Nah, lets try 10. Okay – I can do this. I’m aiming for 2 k in 11 mins.

At 1.90k the machine decided I’ve reached my maximum heart rate…

I DON’T THINK SO.

Kept jogging on the spot. Machine back on as quick as I could. Back to 10 and for some reason set for 10mins even though I only had 0.2k to go.

So what did I do?

0.2k? Nah,

I just kept on running!

I’ll do to five mins I said, well that’s another 0.85.

Might as well do the last 0.25…

Well, that’s another K so I’m only 0.2 off 3k now so well… Keep on running, keep on running Dory sings in my head.

So I did!

3 minute Jo is long gone. I said goodbye to her weeks ago.

3K Jo is here (for now) so there’s no excuses.

Just keep running!

5K here I come!

Appearing to Dissapear

But I’m still here.


I don’t like to write for the sake of it. I want to have something to say. I was always told I talk to much and for those of you who know me you will know this is true and I always have something to say! But of course, I’m not talking about just ‘something’, like what I had for dinner last night (A very naughty not gluten free papa johns pizza now you’ve asked), I’m talking about the big things.

I’ve just been finding it hard to write recently. I started The Mother’s Story and it is so difficult to write. It doesn’t ‘feel’ right yet. It doesn’t have that flow. It’s also very emotionally draining to put my experiences into words. It’s not just writing, it acknowledging what I’ve been though and facing it for what it is. I cruised through it all, as I do, walls up, not dealing, just moving forward , getting it done. So, I guess the writing is dealing, and I guess part of me just isn’t ready for some of that yet!

But I need to write. It helps me leave myself behind. To be stronger. To be wiser. To be me.

X

Messing with my mind.

⚠️ Possible TMI ⚠️

Last month I tried to let go. I tried to draw the line. To say enough was enough. Not giving up. Not walking away. Just letting go.

Time to focus on me, my health, mentally and physically.

I’ve spent most of the last four years consumed by the mother in me. The desire to become a parent.

And yes I’ve fought long. And I’ve sure as hell fought hard. I’ve kicked and screamed and given my mind, body and soul hell. I think my Gynecologist will run in the opposite direction if he sees me again. (Unless I’m paying of course, so I’ve resorted to letters for now!)

My journey. My struggle. My battle. I’m a brat! I know it. I’m glad of it. I always get what I want. Please don’t get me wrong. I’ve never had anything handed to me. I’ve ALWAYS had to work hard for what I want. This is no exception. But I usually get it. Apart from now.

Now, I’ve been fighting so long I’m not sure if I really wanted it at all. Or if I only wanted it because it didn’t seem to come easy and I love a good fight. Or if I’m just telling myself these things to soften the blow.

So, I tried to let go. I was done.

Then, two weeks ago, on a Tuesday, when I thought was 2dpo (days past ovulation), cramps. I thought I’d done to many sit ups or twists at the gym. Perhaps I’d ovulated late?

Same again the next day.

Come Friday… What is this as I run down the stairs at work? Nipples of doom. I haven’t had those since I came off the pill and if it is that It’s far too early for those surely?

Over the next week my breasts decide to hurt on an exponential scale. This hasn’t happened since before my surgery. Even then nowhere near this early.

Indigestion, gas and nausea. Odd. Unusual and very different to the norm.

You’re probably thinking the same as me by now

11dpo(?) Temp still up. Breasts still sore n large. I could test but I won’t break my rule. A bit of spotting when I visit the bathroom. What the!!!

12dpo(?) Same again. Spotting heavier, almost a light flow. Breasts still sore. Usually, my temperature returns to normal the day before my period and my breasts stop hurting. That’s how I know it’s coming.

My app says it’s not due for two days. My breasts agree. My uterus on the other hand, seems to have other ideas.

So now I’m just confused. And sad. I thought I had left this behind but my body is tricking me, playing games with my mind.

I know I’m not pregnant.

So why make me think I might be?

Did I ovulate at 14dpo (this hasn’t happened since the two months immediately after surgery)? If I did ovulate on day 14? PROGRESS?!?

And if so, what was all the other business?

Could it be a chemical? I didn’t test. I don’t test; EVER. Seeing one pink line waving back at me instead of two is too much (Did I mention I hate pink, always have. Makes sense now). Should I have broken my rule? And for what? If it is it’s progress, it’s the most I’ve ever managed to my knowledge. PROGRESS?!?

Can I really be making progress again after all this time?

The glimmers of hope like moonlight dancing on the waves.

I try to leave her behind, the mother in me. But it seems she’s not done. Not willing to walk away. Still willing to fight. Still brave enough to hope.

Do I ignore her. Happy as I am? Without the cherry on top?

Do I succum to her demands again and live my life filled with restrictions and rules and charts and dipping sticks in cups of pee.

It’s clear she’s not going anywhere but she can’t be in control either.

I am. I choose me.

But I also choose her.

She will always be welcome. Watching my back, alerting me to my health when necessary. In hope or dispair. Finding joy in my nieces and nephew, my friends children. Finding sadness for myself in others pregnancy announcements and happiness for them that they get to be parents and never have this battle to fight, this pain to bear. Watching with a heavy heart as my friends have multiple babies in all the time it has taken me to not have one. Glowing with pride as I watch those babies grow into perfect little people. Answering tactfully when people ask when I will have children in a way which won’t hurt anyone.

Perhaps one day her hope will be realised and she can have her moment…

Perhaps one day she’ll slip away silently without me noticing and I’ll realise when it’s too late…

So feel free to stay my friend. You’re right of course. We shouldn’t give up. We shouldn’t stop hoping.

It’s just sometimes it’s all too much.

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CD2. 5am, lying in bed in agony. Temp still high. Breasts still sore. Stomach, back, legs and lower chest burning in pain. Endo is a bitch!

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