Infertility and Me
Beautiful and honest guest blog post from Sam.
I remember when we decided to start trying for a baby, you couldn’t get the smile off my face. I can still specifically remember walking to work with this massive grin, thinking how amazing it was that, finally, we were officially trying for a baby and that someday soon a baby wouldn’t be something we talked about as if it were a dream, a baby was going be part of our reality!
That smile lasted for a few months.
A smiled was replaced with concern, worry, stress…. why wasn’t anything happening? What can I do to speed things up?
Out came the ovulation predictor kits, books bought from amazon on how to make your body the perfect environment for conception. Days spent googling pregnancy symptoms to try and figure out if I could be pregnant before my period arrived. And going by the number of forums and blog posts on the subject, it turns out there are 100s of women out there doing the exact same things.
Just before reaching 12 months of trying we went to our GP. They ran standard tests, blood tests to check I was ovulating and a sperm count on my husband. Everything came back fine. We were eventually referred to our local fertility specialists at Southend hospital.
I was counting down the days to that first appointment, I think part of me was hoping he would tell us we were doing “it” wrong and that’s why we weren’t pregnant!
But obviously, he didn’t do that! He referred me for more tests, scans to check my tubes were open and clear, and that my ovaries were clear. I think I had 3 procedures in total, over the space of a few months. Each one needing to be done at a different time in my cycle.
For me, it was quite therapeutic. After months of monitoring my body and not getting results, It felt like I was finally doing something that I had some control over. I don’t think it was the same for my husband though, he hates anything medical and was worried what they might find.
But, he needn’t have worried. Because they found nothing. They could find no single reason why we had not conceived. We were young, healthy, didn’t smoke or drink! Prime candidates for getting pregnant. The tests even confirmed this. So why on earth was this not happening for us?????
But things weren’t about to get any better! Since we were now officially diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”. There were no more tests and nothing to be done for now, since the NHS guidelines state a couple with unexplained infertility need to have been trying for 3 years before IVF was offered.
3 years! 3 years! So, we had another year to wait before we would even have our name added to the ever-growing waiting list!
We had no choice but to wait it out, we didn’t have the money for private IVF treatment.
So, we returned to life as normally as we could. We booked holidays, sold our flat, moved in with my parents, saved some money, bought our home, had birthdays and Christmas’s and watched as everyone around us had their babies. Deflected questions about when were we going to have a baby? Didn’t we want kids?
Even amongst all this supposed “living” I couldn’t stop monitoring, I couldn’t stop symptom spotting, I didn’t stop reading forums looking for a glimmer of hope or an answer to why we didn’t have our baby yet.
I turned to hypnotherapy to try and quiet my emotionally fraught mind. And it helped a great deal. In fact, I would recommend it to anyone suffering with infertility. I think without it I would’ve had a nervous breakdown, and I don’t say that to be dramatic. But the emotional roller-coaster was taking its toll on my mental health and my relationship with my husband. Hypnotherapy saved me from the brink and when we did start IVF, my mind-set was in a much better place.
Since we moved, briefly, out of Southend to my parents in Kent, when it came to the 3 year mark we were in no position to go down the IVF route. We had no home and we were now living in a different county! So, we had to wait until our house purchase went through and we’d moved back to Essex again. Which we did in October 2014.
I very quickly made an appointment to see the fertility specialist again, who was someone different now. And thankfully he was sympathetic to our plight and I think we kind of jumped any waiting list! We were being seen by the clinic by March and preparing for our first cycle to start just after my 30th birthday in April.
Injections started and we both felt really positive, we had the mind-set of “how can this not work?”
On the day of harvesting my eggs, we were really excited and couldn’t wait to find out how many had been taken and we were not let down as they were able to extract 6!! All six where mixed with my husband’s sperm, and we waited anxiously over the next week to find out how many made it to day 5.
Again, we were excited to find out 5 had made it to embryos and they were all of a good grade so the clinic had their pick of ones to put back.
One embryo was put back and the other 4 were frozen for later use. Which was beyond our wildest dreams really as we knew we only had a limited amount of cycles under the NHS.
Then we headed into the dreaded 2 week wait to find out if the IVF had worked. It was the longest 2 weeks of my life.
We did the test on a Saturday morning, we couldn’t find the test the clinic had provided us with but I had some left over, so I peed on the stick and left it on the bathroom sink and crawled back under my duvet, too scared to even look, so my husband did….and nothing! Literally nothing! The test was out of date!!! Arhhh
We turned the house upside down looking for the one supplied by the clinic. Once found, again I peed on the stick and hid under my duvet, preparing myself for bad news.
My husband was silent for ages, I was crying in preparation for bad news, when he walked into the bedroom “what time we going to your mums?”
So, that was it then, he couldn’t bare to tell me the bad news……
“Your pregnant by the way!” Was his quick follow up….. I didn’t believe him, where was the test, I needed to see for myself! Even when I saw it, I couldn’t believe it, it took a good few days to sink in. But once it did, my smile was finally back on my face.
You hear a lot about the short falls of IVF and how the odds are against you but that’s not everyone’s story. There are successes out there. Without the support of my amazing husband, my friends and family we couldn’t have got through those 4 years. Even reflecting back to those days can make the feelings of anxiety return.
If you are suffering through fertility, my heart goes out to you. Mostly we suffer in silence, to embarrassed or ashamed to talk about it but you must talk! For your own sake talk about your feelings and ask for support, you are not alone.
If I could offer you one word of advice that would be “live”! Live your life, do not put things on hold while you wait to get pregnant. Book the holiday, do the exercise class, drink the wine and eat the cake! You are not infertility; you are a person and have more to offer then you probably realise. Do not feel like a lesser person because you have been dealt this hand in life. You are amazing as a woman, whether you become a mother or not. You are enough! Xxx
If you or anyone you know is either setting out on their fertility journey, is already on their journey or is out the other side you may like to join our This Girl is Enough monthly meet up in Chelmsford Essex in April 2017. There will be a fertility specialist joining us to talk about options and emotions. It will be a very closed private space, attendees names will not be share anywhere as I understand how personal a topic this is but how women need the space to share and meet other women who are going through or have been through the process.
For more information and to buy a ticket, there are only 15 places (£5 to cover venue and refreshments) click here.