Today marks my very first blog. I have decided it is time to get all of these thoughts and ideas out of my head and onto a page. So here goes.
The last 15 months have been the most challenging in my life to date. I have been hit with more curve balls than I thought possible and I have learnt that life really can be a roller coaster, even when you least expect it. It all started with a fun and exciting idea to try and have a baby. My husband and I had been married for nearly a year, recently bought our first home and had not long returned from our amazing honeymoon in Europe. Everything in life was falling into place and we were excited to take the next step.
Little did we know what lay ahead of us.
As a teenager/young woman I was constantly reminded that everyone in my family had fallen pregnant incredibly easily (basically just looking at each other) and to be so so careful to make sure I took all precautions to avoid an ‘accident’. I did. I started taking the pill at 16 years old and didn’t look back. It became part of my daily routine and I never thought any more about it. Then one day as a 28 year old, now ready to take that step and start a family, I stopped taking it. Simple as that.
6 weeks later and I still hadn’t had my period after stopping the pill. After speaking to friends I heard that this was common, nothing to worry about, but I figured I should check in with my GP anyway. Her first comment was “Oh, you must be pregnant! Let’s do a test!”. I assured her I had already done one at home but she insisted we do another one. Negative. As I expected. This lead to a referral to an Ob/Gyn who would “get you sorted out”.
At this stage I discovered that a close friend was in the same boat. We had both come off the pill at a similar time and were both having issues with things ‘returning to normal’. It was so re-assuring to know it was not just me! We were both feeling ‘hormotional’ together and became buddies in this silly experience.
From here the medication started. For me it was 3 cycles of Clomid, at 3 different dosages over a period of 5 months. In theory this would make me ovulate so we could get our baby making plans in action. Unfortunately it was not that simple. Every month led to another failure to ovulate and another disappointment. It was about this time that suddenly my desire to become a mum and grow our family became an obsession. As soon as you tell someone they can’t have something, suddenly they want it so much more. I became an emotional wreck and my poor husband bore the brunt of my disappointment and frustration. I began to see my body as broken and wonder what was wrong with me. I questioned everything I had done in the past and wondered what I had done to deserve this label of ‘infertile’. I became angry and told my husband he would be better off leaving me and finding someone who could make him a dad. I became irrational and it’s not something I am proud of.
The next option for us was a cycle of Gonal-F injections which still failed to give us the result we so desired. I was still not even ovulating. I still didn’t have a reason or diagnosis as to what was causing my infertility. We were told the next step for us was IVF. I don’t know why this news broke me the way it did but I cried for days. I felt like a failure as a woman and was utterly terrified of not only the process but the expense. I felt so guilty that we were spending so much money on trying to get pregnant. Guilty that that money should be going towards our dreams of renovating our home. By this stage this whole process had been going on for more than 12 months.
It had been a year from hell. I could not tell you a time in that full year where I felt 100% well and full of energy. I was a shell of my normal self, retreating away from the world. To add to the crap of our battle to have a baby was the fact my husband had suffered a head injury playing sport, which left him with post concussion syndrome. Like infertility it was an ‘invisible illness’ where he looked perfectly healthy from the outside but was dizzy exhausted and struggling to concentrate. And our puppy broke his leg. That was the icing on the cake. We were all battered, broken and not sure what to do with ourselves.
Then I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. An allergy to gluten which causes your intestines to become so inflamed you are unable to absorb nutrients from food. It explained my weight loss and tummy troubles, both of which I had put down to stress, and a possible cause for my infertility. This is it we thought! We have found the source of the problem and once I change my diet I will be fixed! It was exciting news for us. While going Gluten Free has made a big difference to my energy levels and overall health, unfortunately I am still to this day living with infertility.
We went though our first IVF cycle in November 2016. To say it was a struggle is an understatement. The daily needles, scans, surgery and appointments is tiring, let alone the nausea, bloating, pain and emotional upheaval that goes with it. Sadly it was far from successful.While I had 6-8 mature follicles going into the egg pick up procedure, I was absolutely gutted to discover they only retrieved 1 lonely egg. I thought it was all over and we had just wasted a crap load of money and achieved nothing. Our hopes were lifted the next morning when we learned thatthe one little egg had managed to fertilize and we had an embryo to transfer. We still had a very small shot at this! We had a 2 day transfer and 10 days later on our 2nd wedding anniversary my curiosity got the better of me and I did a pregnancy test. It was positive. I felt the first real, genuine smile and complete and utter happiness I had felt in over a year. I will never forget seeing that second line show up on the test. Sadly that happiness was short lived and we had a very early miscarriage. Known as a chemical pregnancy. While I was sad and so disappointed all over again we had learnt how my body responded to the drugs so we knew how to change things for the next cycle. And we knew that I could do it. Physically my body had the ability to fall pregnant and I held onto that little piece of hope as tightly as I could.
The toughest thing for me in this whole process has not been the painful procedures or the physical symptoms. It’s been dealing with other people around me the things they have said to me along the way. People I assumed would be really thoughtful and have my back in this have said things that have been so insensitive and totally upsetting. I have had so many friends fall pregnant and have babies around me and that has been so hard to deal with. I have had strangers and clients constantly ask “When are you going to have a baby?” and sometimes I just want to scream at them that I am trying and it won’t work! My ‘buddy’ who I shared my fears with in the early days fell pregnant on the first cycle of Clomid and I was left alone in this again. We were no longer on the roller coaster together.She was now on a completely different ride. The pregnancy ride, and I so desperately wanted to be on it with her.
Ultimately the hardest thing I have faced has been the lack of support when we needed it the most. The situations that very nearly tore me apart. When one of my very best and longest friends told me she was pregnant, in the middle of a party with a crowd of people around. She knew the battles we were going through (this was still in the early days) and yet did not stop to think about how hard that news would be for me to hear. She was 15 weeks pregnant and apparently I was the last to know. I don’t know if I will ever forgive her for the pain she put me though that night. I have chosen not to share the rest of my story with her. She now has beautiful daughter and we are still friends. But never again will I share with her my biggest fears and hardest moments. I have since had other friends share their happy news with me and I am so appreciative of the way they have respected my feelings and told me alone and given me a chance to get my head around it before the news is public. These are the real friends and those that I appreciate so much along this rocky ride.
We will be starting another round of IVF in the coming months and I hope to document my feelings and fears along the way. I hope that one day I have happy news to share on here but I know there will likely be many more ups and downs along the way. I have long since given up on the notion of fairy tales but that doesn’t mean we can’t have our happy ending. With my amazing husband by my side and a beautiful group of friends around me I know I will eventually be a mother one day. No matter what it takes to make that happen, we will get there.
A quote shared with me by a dear friend – “Life is tough darling, but so are you”.