When I was young, I imagined the typical cookie cutter life. I would find a great guy, get married and have kids. Because, that’s how it works right? In my late 20’s, I met Paul. I knew he was the one I wanted to marry and he would make a great father. Married life was bliss but when we started trying for a family, we realised it was not going to be easy for us. I was never prepared for the agony we would go through to try and have a baby.
When couples decide to try for a child it is such an exciting time! But after a few months, the questions begin. Is there something wrong with me? Or is it him? Our age? Are we getting the timing right? After a couple of months I tried to track my ovulation. Then I got an app. Then I started a spreadsheet (yes a spreadsheet, not OTT at all). I tried to work out the best time to do the deed and instead of things being spontaneous, they became a bit forced and rigid. There is nothing sexy about timing sex. The thing is, you have a window, a very small window and if you miss it… well you have to wait another month. ANOTHER MONTH. There is only 12 in a year. Only 12 goes a year. And not to mention all the ‘when are you having kids?’ questions and the old ‘the clock is ticking’ comments. I started to get very low and absolutely consumed with the idea of falling pregnant and nothing else mattered much to me. At the same time, EVERYONE around me was falling pregnant. Going to kid’s birthday parties and hearing pregnancy announcements started getting hard to bare. Although I was so happy for them, I was breaking inside.
After trying for nearly a year, we took ourselves to a fertility specialist and found out that conceiving naturally was pretty much impossible. I went my whole 20’s without realising I had a problem. After many operations for endometriosis as a young adolescent, I was left with significant scar tissue on the lining of my uterus. This makes a terrible environment for an egg to latch, like trying to grow a plant in clay. Every time we were trying, the egg would try but fail to latch. Sometimes it may have latched, for just a little and then it passed. The idea of this was so hard to take. I probably fell pregnant a lot but I couldn’t sustain it. After trying for another few months, with the guidance of our specialist, the help of medication and perfect timing, there was still nothing. Paul and I had to have a very frank discussion about what the next steps would be. We knew how much we wanted children and although IVF was an option, we had our limits, both financially and emotionally. And, although IVF is so scientifically precise, it would still have its hurdles with my condition. Our specialist gave us a small chance.
The IVF process is such a long, drawn out, emotional roller coaster and can really test a couple, along with breaking the bank. We decided to give it 3 attempts and then investigate other options, like adoption. Instead of going straight into IVF, my specialist had a game plan. Considering my situation, she booked me in for yet another operation. The same procedure that put me in this mess to start with. She would attempt to remove the scar tissue on my endometrium, in the hope that it wouldn’t return in its entirety and hopefully, create somewhere for an egg to latch. The next month we did our first cycle.
For the next few weeks, I continued to take medication, insert medication and stick needles in my belly. The IVF process is pretty invasive. But not just for the woman….
Paul and I were not together the next time we needed to ‘do the deed’. Paul was on one side of town, in a little room with a TV he was too scared to turn on and a few nudie magazines from the 1990’s. He text me and said he was the most uncomfortable he had been in his life. He was able to hear the receptionists in the next room discussing what they brought for lunch. He considered turning on the tv… but what if the volume was up? Poor guy.
Later, we went to the clinic and viewed our fertilised eggs. They showed us the egg that they would be transferring and not long later, we went to another little room with 2 other women we had never met, and tried to make a baby. So intimate. The rest of the embryos were frozen, for future attempts.
This next few weeks was probably the longest time of my life.
I have never thought about something more. It consumed me. I longed for a positive test. Every little niggle in my belly made me wonder if it was happening or falling away again. But I tried to keep myself busy with a couple of projects. There is nothing you can really do to make it happen but being kind to yourself and being busy, I am sure helps.
One morning, I got up for work and although I wasn’t supposed to test for another day or two, I just couldn’t wait. I had already spent hundreds of dollars on them over the past year, what was one more going to do? I knew it was early so after I took it, I put it on the floor and didn’t give it too much thought. On the way out, I picked it up and to my disbelief, there was a faint line. As I watched it get darker before my eyes, I walked back into the bedroom where Paul was sleeping and crawled back into bed and curled up to him. He turned over and looked at me and said ‘you are pregnant aren’t you?’ I didn’t have to say anything. It must have been my smile. I was late to work that day…..
This pregnancy was obviously so precious to us and because my lining wasn’t all that favourable, we had a high risk pregnancy. It was a long and anxious time, as we reached each milestone. But, then came Harvey and changed our world forever. Our IVF baby.
When Harvey was about 1 year old we decided to start trying again. After a while we got distinct feeling we were wasting our time again. I was starting to get low again but we talked and decided that rather than putting ourselves through it again, month after month, we would wait one year and then do IVF again. We had a new attitude; what will be, will be. We wanted a sibling for Harvey but there was less pressure this time and ultimately, we would be very happy with one. In the mean-time, I decided to leave a job that I wasn’t enjoying and search for a role I would be happy in. Resigning, was like lifting a weigh off my shoulders and I decided to concentrate on me and be in a great frame of mind when we tackled IVF again. We only did one round the first time. Surely, we wouldn’t be that lucky the next time.
The Sunday before I started my new job, I felt different. I had sore boobs and I was bloody tired. Surely not…..I took a test and was completely astonished to get a positive. How the fuck did that happen? I remember coming out the bathroom…. Paul was feeding Harvey. I showed him the test and the reaction was priceless…… ‘What? HOW? You are pregnant? But wait…. You have a new job! This isn’t part of the plan… I need to look at our budget!’ (I love that he mentioned the budget) He had to sit down. It took some time for it to sink in but we could not believe how lucky we were and nothing else mattered. After just 8 weeks in my new role, I had to break the news to my boss but she was amazing and I am still there today.
Isn’t it funny that the moment we stopped trying it happened. The moment the pressure was off. Some say it’s because I had already had a pregnancy, that my body learnt what to do. Some say the first pregnancy rejuvenated my problem. Maybe because there was less pressure and stress. Who knows but today we have beautiful Chloe. Our complete surprise.
MY TIPS FOR THE FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Finding the right words can be very hard. Some of my dear friends have gone through miscarriage, loss and infertility and for someone who usually has so many words, I had very little. If you are struggling to find some words, a simple ‘how are you going’ in a quiet place is enough to allow them to open up if they feel like it. Just be there. But steer away from comments like ‘you can always adopt’ or ‘relax and it will happen’. They are likely to stab you in the eye with a pregnancy test.
If you are looking for a gift, choose one that is self-nurturing like a lunch or massage voucher. Or one that distracts them from the process is a great idea too, like an experience or project like some seedlings and soil.
MY TIPS FOR THE COUPLE
It’s not just woman who goes through the agony and stress of infertility, it’s their partner too. The partner has a tough time because not only are they struggling to get their own head around it, they also are trying to support the one who physically going through it. Men rarely speak to anyone. They really keep to themselves. For those that are experiencing infertility or about to go through IVF, remember that your relationship is the most important thing. Nurture it through the roller coaster of IVF and don’t be each other’s punching bag. It’s such is emotional time and both parties will handle it differently. Because I was the one with physical issues, preventing us from conceiving, I handled it worse that my husband. And often, I probably neglected his needs. In the end, if you are not successful, you need to be there for each other.
As mentioned; keep yourself busy. I planned a holiday and started a vegetable garden. There was something therapeutic about the garden. I was watering, nurturing and growing this garden during the process, just like I was, my belly…. xxx
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