Hope, Faith & Fertility
If you've been reading my blog so far or you read OK Magazine you'll know I had a miscarriage in 2014. It was truly devastating and I felt very angry for a long time afterwards. I think when a woman suffers a miscarriage they are often all consumed with the need to get pregnant again straight away, I know this was certainly the case for me. I was desperate to right the wrong that had befallen me, to prove I was still a woman. I felt like I had let everyone down. It's ridiculous but I felt ashamed.
I was 40 years old, so I knew I was cutting it fine to have a baby anyway. A cruel doctor at a hospital had said it was either, my age or because I had stopped taking the drug Prozac cold turkey that had caused the miscarriage, so as if I didn't already feel like a failure I now felt guilty as well. Luckily, because of a wonderful fertility doctor I now know, that just isn't true.
A lot of you lovely ladies have messaged me since my 'MisCarriage Of Justice' blog and shared with me your heart breaking experiences. I want to tell you all now, there is no shame, it was not your fault, it was nothing you did. It can be a result of many factors or just simple bad luck. There is always hope though and my hope came in the form of Dr Arun Ghosh.
After my miscarriage I was petrified if I got pregnant I'd go through it all again and yet I was desperate for a baby. I decided to leave no stone un-turned and thought it would be best for my mental state if I had a fertility test. I also changed my diet, took pre pregnancy vitamin pills, remained off Prozac and I even made sure Ayden was looking after his health too. I actually recommend this to any one who is trying for a baby. I'm sure it doesn't make any difference but it does make you feel better.
I searched the internet for private doctors near Liverpool who specialised in fertility and I came across Dr Ghosh's website. I called and booked an appointment for both Ayden and me to attend.
I was immediately impressed, Dr Ghosh is a warm, supremely intelligent man. He effortlessly made me feel, for the first time, that the miscarriage wasn't my fault, that it's more common than people admit to and that there is hope more often than not, when it comes to fertility. He did a thorough examination of Ayden and myself and said we should take a blood test to check whether my 'eggs' were still ok as obviously my age could be a factor and so we should rule that out first.
I remember the joy and relief I felt when he called me a few days after the blood test and was actually thrilled to tell me, "Well, you must look after yourself because your eggs are those of a 29 year old's." He continued, "You should have a good 5 years of good eggs left but don't wait around, get on with it as we have no real way of telling when these things will change."
I loved the fact he was almost as excited to tell me this wonderful news as I was to receive it! We did as we were told and 'got on with it' and that very night we conceived... I think this was due to the fact that Dr Ghosh took away all my anxiety and the doubt that I'd had carousel-ling in my head. The miscarriage made me doubt myself as a woman, which is so silly. Dr Ghosh came along like a modern day Kokopelli and broke the spell.
I wanted to share my lovely Dr Ghosh and his knowledge with you, so I asked him if he would do an interview and happily he said yes:
Here it is:
What test did you do to help me?
"I started with a really good history and examination of both partners. Remember the cause of infertility or not being able to get pregnant is multi factoral and blame should not be given to anyone - sometimes it's as simple as not having sex frequently enough!
We went through this together and that's really important for people to understand, so everyone remains positive."
What fertility tests did you do on me?
"Sarah, you had an assessment of ovulation - mid luteal progesterone - taken seven days prior to menses e.g 21 of a 28 day cycle or day 32 of a 32 day cycle.
We did hormonal tests too - LH, FSH, TFT's, testosterone, DHEA, sex hormone binding globulin, PRL- performed on day 2,3 or 4 of your cycle.
On addition you had a special test called AMH - antimullerian hormone - or in layman's terms, Ovarian Reserve Testing.
It's important your readers know that
* infertility may be multifactoral
* rate of conception decreases with age - due to both decreased frequency of intercourse and to poorly defined effects on fertility
* it's always best to start with relatively simple, non- invasive tests; delay operative evaluation for the first 6 - 8 months, if possible as it can do more harm than good."
You said I had the eggs of a 29-30 year old I think, why is that?
"Haha, yes I did. This gets a bit technical so stop me if I bore you...
AMH -Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) is a protein hormone produced by cells within the ovary. Understanding your AMH level can help to assess your ovarian egg reserve and therefore your fertility.
AMH levels are naturally lower in older women (particularly over the age of 40) and higher in women with Polycystic Ovaries (PCO) or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
AMH levels are tested as part of your initial screening when you begin treatment via a simple blood test. It tells us how well you will respond to ovarian stimulation and give us an indication of how many eggs you have in your ovaries – i.e. your ovarian reserve. If you have a low or very low blood AMH level, this typically means you don’t have many available eggs.
However, low egg reserve should always be confirmed by other tests such as ultrasound scans.
You have great levels (given your age) - that on par with someone 10 years younger - probably because you did not smoke drink and controlled your weight well recently - but genetics have a large part to play really.
But it doesn’t mean the eggs you do have can’t successfully result in a baby – lots of women who have low AMH levels have babies.
Considering your age, fertility history, and any previous treatment response it helps me then advise on your individual chances for different treatment methods, or even natural conception. Still with me???
It’s very important to remember that low ovarian egg reserve does not necessarily affect your natural fertility, especially at a younger age, and your potential for conceiving is influenced by a number of factors as I said earlier - AMH assessment is only a part of it."
Do you offer a bespoke service for pregnant ladies?
"We did but I have such a long wait now (1-2 years) that I am unable to take many more people on - though would thoroughly recommend seeing my colleagues in the Women's hospital whom I have set up a programme with.
People can still book in to discuss fertility and pregnancy problems with me directly and I will always help as much as i can but I like to be a real hand holder for couples going through this and there is only so many hours in the day!"
Thank you Dr Ghosh! xx
Dr Ghosh also made it possible for me to have a scan every week from 7 weeks - 12 weeks once I was pregnant. We did this at Baby Bond, they have clinics all over the country and I cannot recommend them enough. We also had the revolutionary harmony scan to make sure Phoenix was well, which I will talk about in a later blog.
Dr Ghosh is based in Liverpool and let me tell you I would recommend travelling from Australia to see him or someone on is programme.
He also has some wonderful Baby Boxes that I cannot recommend enough!
The brilliant Baby Safe Box. A first aid kit for newborns and babies. I have this myself and it's is so amazing. Just knowing what is safe to use on my little boy is wonderful.
There's also the brand new 'Travel Box' which was developed for TUI but is now available for the public to buy: