Getting back in the game…..

So this is my ‘Birthday weekend’ …. Woo Hoo… Ive made it another year…. and Im in Galway, my ole stomping ground where I went to University…. and wow has it changed. It still has that young vibe about it… But so much more cosmopolitan.

On my journeys I actually found a place that makes ‘Bullet Proof Coffee’ and I have to say, trying it for the first time… Wooooooo…. everything they say about it…. is TRUE……. I feel like I could run a marathon, swim in a triathlon and possibly maybe could do a hand stand for a few hours……….

Galway has always had a special place in my heart…. I think its where I learned true appreciation for what life is about. How short in can be. And how we shouldn’t take life as seriously as we do.

Back in my 20’s I had a choice of doing Science in Cork University or Business in Galway University. Usually only one offer is made by the universities. I got two.. 🙂 And no its not because Im super intelligent. This was caused by a problem that arose at my baptism when I was only 4 months old… My mum and dad wanted to baptise me ‘Gordon’ …… they wanted to be a little different I suppose, its not a very Irish name. So off we trek down to the church, family and friends all gathered together. Lots of smiles… During the ceremony the priest asks my mum what I am to be named. My mum proud as a Peacock, says ‘Gordon’. Glowing with one of her typical amazing beautiful smiles. She however…. doesn’t get a smile back. She describes it as more like a growl… ‘Thats not a Saints name’ you are not naming your son ‘Gordon’… The priest refuses to baptise me.

Now from what I remember, its not a good idea to mess with new ‘Mothers’….. but at the time, when the church had more control of peoples views. She had no choice. I was Baptised ‘Michael’ – ironically I was never going to be a lovable little Angel…. 🙂 So on my birth cert, its ‘Gordon’ and on my Baptismal cert – ‘Michael’. The name ‘Michael’ was banned in the house for the next 20 years where it would come back to bite me..

Fast forward those 20 years…. it was a no brainer for me…. Galway. Galway Galway. It would give the opportunity to flap my wings and fly….

I remember my mum and dad dropping me off at the student village at the time and feeling the sadness of the change of that day, seeing my mum cry as she drove away….My dad comforting her as he always did. What I didn’t realise at the time was that…. loss doesn’t necessarily come from death. It can come from the strangest of places, loss and grief can come from something that was to be in your life……something you dreamed of… looking back at the time that has passed, the days, months and now the years. a place where you were to be a mum, to have a baby. That is loss.

Miscarriage is a massive loss to couples. And unless you have been through it. You will never understand. How could you. I hear a lot from my clients that have suffered from recurrent miscarriage about the sadness they experience, that sense of loss and the massive cloud of grief that follows them around every day. Some are lucky, they have family and friends who will feel for them and be sympathetic. But their families and friends will move on. And move on quickly. They will forget.

For me in Galway, I was now a ‘Man’ and this was the start of my future…. and it was going to be amazing…. or so I thought….. Little did I know 12 months after seeing my mum cry as she drove away in the car.. I would be the one crying…. as I said good bye to my Mum… taken by Cancer…

This week has been a tough week for me…. 3 of my patients miscarried and are now going through their losses as best they can. And as I write this…. a call comes through to my phone of another ‘Positive Result’. 🙂 They are so so so happy…. As am I… for them.. They are so deserving of this….. But now the hard part begins… We have to keep her safe and pregnant and allow for a healthy baby to grow and develop….. Now I have to make a plan for her treatment strategy for the next 8 weeks…

Interestingly, out of every 100 fertilisations of an egg…. lets imagine by day 21, all those 100 embryos implant… within the next 5 to 7 day… 80 of those embryos won’t make it to day 28… my patients will maybe feel something different.. a little sick, maybe some tiredness, and think ohhhh maybe, maybe Gordons on the money this month….. He said he had a good feeling….. OHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! Fingers toes legs and arms…………. and then the period arrives for 80 out of those 100. Think about it…. 80% won’t make it to day 28…. And out of those 20 left….. 5 will miscarry over the next 8-10 weeks. So thats 15 out of every 100…… With a 22% chance per month of getting pregnant and you start to see that, its actually really hard to get pregnant and then more importantly…. Stay Pregnant…..

So with 27 ladies in my clinic pregnant and all under the 12 week safety mark…. What would happen if you put them all into the same room. What do you think the dominant emotion would be…. You would think it would be one of extreme happiness and joy. You would think there would be 27 smiles…. thoughts of the future… of being parents…..

Ah….. NO!!!!!! its not….. ‘Fear’ ‘Worry’ and ‘Anxiety’ believe it or not are the dominant emotions…. Of course theres the initial 10 seconds of ‘WOOOOOOO HOOOOOOO’ I’m Pregnant…… I’m Pregnant…. Theres the running to hubby and the tears of joy…… and then….. a picture message of the pregnancy test to ‘Gordon’ ……. YES THAT HAPPENS……. and I love it……. nothing like an image of a positive pregnancy test to show that moment of… Woow………. all the hard work has paid off…..

Then suddenly, out of no where…..WHAM!!!!!!!!!!

FEAR…. ANXIETY and more FEAR……

Fear of miscarriage… Losing your baby….. crash……

It has taken me a long time to figure out, why this happens…. Is it normal to feel this way… Does this happen to every women trying for a baby…. Being a man of course.. I realised..us men are a little slow sometimes… So it took me time to figure it out…. For 90% of women who get the positive result. Its joy, happiness…. or Oh crap… How did that happen…. We’re not ready… Or… we weren’t even trying….. ‘Ah…. I remember the night… It was the Ireland Vs England game….. OPPPSSSSSSS…..’ And thats it. there is no fear… there is no thoughts of miscarriage…. Its extreme joy or oh crap Im pregnant……..

The other 10% of ladies that find themselves pregnant…. we’ll they are on a very different journey… especially if they are coming to my clinic….

I find triggers very interesting. Triggers are something that put us into an immediate state of thought. Triggers create habit. Triggers can be smells, sounds or words. One of my biggest triggers is where anytime I hear the word ‘Cancer’….. all I can say is it scares the absolute crap out of me… why, well because its in my life, I have a history with it…. I lost 20 maybe 30 years of time with my mum…. with 5-10 years of emotional stagnation after her death.. which I didn’t know I had… Where I couldn’t connect…. ‘Cancer’ is on my radar, we have a history…… and my life is intertwined with it… For a long time… It created an absolutely paralysing fear in me…..

It took one of my mentors to kick me in the ass and tell me to cop on….. Your so scared of this thing thats in paralysing your life… BTW in clinic or at work.. You’d never know I had that fear… remember that emotional disconnection…. its great way of hiding fear from your public life…. its numbing…

So when you experience a miscarriage it hits you….. it hits you HARD…… nothing like you will ever experience… and now the joy of pregnancy is gone, the desire will always be there… that never leaves but the joy is gone… hope disappears slowly until you don’t realise thats its no longer there…

So guess what happens when two emotions like joy and hope leave your body…. they get replaced….

And not by good ones…. The unfortunately always get replaced by fear, anxiety, loss, sadness and sometimes in the end…. Anger…. (just a check in: its currently 8.10pm, I started this at 12, and Im eating a pizza in a very cool place, ‘The Dough Bros’ – if you get a chance…. WOW you got to try it…. and of course there are lots and lots of happy people here eating PIZZA..)

So lets get back to this 22% chance per month of getting pregnant in your most fertile days….. How do you think we could improve that number….. to lets say 30%…. maybe even 40%… Well you could try the medical route, IUI, IVF and all that fun stuff… take a look at the stats…. they really are no better than 30%….

You could maybe lose some weight, eat organically, give up alcohol, give up wheat, give up dairy, give up sugar. GIVE UP LIFEEEEEEEE…… BTW this never works, it sucks.…. it looks great on paper… but in life…. nope….. it will drive you crazy….. and also your partner…… Have a beer…. Have a glass of wine…. HAVE SOME PIZZAAAAA……

Everything being equal, you and you partner being of average good health….. Go back to basics…. everything in your life to date, out side of fertility… Take a look at it….. No seriously… take out everything to do with your fertility and your journey to having a baby….. and now look at it…. does that part of your life suck…. do you have family and friends, an amazing partner, a half descent job…. Well to be fair it is called work for a reason… Very few of us get to enjoy what we do…. I got lucky…… and I wake up each and every day knowing Im doing the best in life that I can do…. with the tools I have….

So the 5 things to remember are:

– Emotion is normal, whether it be Sadness, Anger Frustration Fear or even Happiness…. But is the motion you are experiencing appropriate for the situation. Seeing someone laugh at a funeral is not an appropriate emotion. Having 6 miscarriages in a row, and having fear of pregnancy. Thats appropriate.

– Nobody will ever understand how you are feeling, they will only understand how they feel. And if someone tells you to relax, well, take a deep breath, release slowly…. And put your hand out and give them ‘The Bird’ 🙂

– Loss and sadness doesn’t have to come from death, not having something in your life that you so want like pregnancy. Over time, creates sadness and loss.

– There is a structure to Loss, Grief and Sadness, some make sure you move through the spectrum of emotions, if you find yourself stuck in one emotion, over and over again, it may be inappropriate. The spectrum being: Loss – Sadness – Frustration – Anger – Acceptance – Bargaining…..

– Sometime you just need to take a time out from whats going on in your life. And gain perspective on the truth of your life. Do something you would never do.. Like me below on the Cliffs of Moher listening to U2, with my shoes off. Life slows down in those moments.

Any comments, queries or rants… you can get me on Hello(at)Aculife.ie – Gordon