This week (22-28 April 2018) marks National Infertility Awareness Week.
Many couples who are experiencing infertility issues will not seek to discuss such things with any other person. Its their little secret and sadly their embarrassment that they aren’t able to reproduce just as nature intended and they wish to keep that just to themselves.
This isn’t helped by the constant bombardment in the news of this or that celebrity announcing their pregnancy news exclusives or indeed by this virtual world and all the wacky and wonderful ways in which new expectant parents choose to announce their own happy news to the whole wide world.
But what if you are one of the 1 in 8 couples that are experiencing “issues” with having a baby. Well, I’ll tell you it bloody hurts. Hurts to the very core of your existence and being. Now its not the fault of the happy couples, of course they are happy, but it just hurts those already suffering just that little bit more. Its rubbing salt into a gaping open wound.
I, myself suffered with what is known as unexplained infertility and although, I managed to fall pregnant a couple of times, I sadly lost those pregnancies and it was 7 long, long years before I was able to hold a baby in my arms to call my own.
I was married in 2003 and knew immediately that I wanted to start a family. I fell pregnant within a couple of months of trying. The pregnancy was sadly ectopic however and I needed surgery to remove the baby and I also lost one of my fallopian tubes in the process.
Shaken and undoubtedly hurt by the whole sorry affair I was still determined that I wanted to try again. I was advised that there was no reason why I couldn’t fall pregnant again, but that things might be slightly more complicated as I now only had the one fallopian tube. It took me 7 months to fall pregnant a second time, but obviously my hubby and I were ecstatic when we did. Especially as it seemed all of our peers were having babies at the same time. We wanted to be part of the gang too!
Due to the ectopic, I was seen by the EPAU at 6 weeks. I was relieved and overjoyed to hear that everything was “where it should be”. I was invited to come back in two weeks to check on progress when hopefully we would also be able to see the heartbeat.
Two weeks past and we went back full of hope and joy. That was to be short lived however as when the sonographer did the scan she said that what she was seeing today was what she would of expected to see at 6 weeks and not 8 weeks as I knew I was. It was noticed that there had been some growth, however, so I was invited back the following week for a further scan.
That was a really hard week. I knew my dates were right, I knew I was eight weeks along and I knew there should of been a heartbeat by now.
The following week I went back and if was confirmed that the pregnancy wasn’t “viable”. I was diagnosed as having a Missed Miscarriage and I was booked in for a ERPC.
On the day of my operation I was seen by the consultant who was so lovely to me. She seemed to understand what I had been through and how much I had wanted this baby. She explained that I hadn’t miscarried the baby naturally because my body just “wasn’t willing to give up hope”. She also talked to me at length and said that she considered me to have been “extremely unlucky” but that she saw no reason why I couldn’t go on to have a healthy pregnancy.
I was a broken then, but little did I know that this was just a scratch on the surface of my infertility journey and the heartbreak that accompanied it.
Years passed and despite me trying acupuncture, reflexology, a Chinese herbalist, old wives tales and every method that was reportedly proven to increase your chances of becoming pregnant, I just couldn’t fall pregnant no matter what I tried. My quest to fall pregnant was all consuming and quite frankly obsessive.
Everyone in our circle was now moving onto their second babies and we still hadn’t managed to have our first. I felt we were being left behind.
We decided to go to our GP to ask for help. I was tested for EVERYTHING and every test came back as they couldn’t see anything as wrong. I was ovulating regularly, I had a 14 day Luteual phase and a regular as clockwork 28 day cycle.
Next it was investigative procedures such as a small key hole operation to have a look around. All that came back was some slight scarring from my previous pregnancies and operations and a report that I had some mild endometriosis scarring. In all though, nothing significant to stop me having a baby.
I also had a hystiosalpingogram, dye injected into my one remaining fallopian tube to check that it was clear, my tube was blown and my ovaries were drilled.
Still I wasn’t getting pregnant.
Many years had passed by now and I was referred to a fertility clinic. I was told that as I only had one fallopian tube that my only option would be to undergo IVF.
So undergo IVF we did. Its not a pleasant procedure and certainly not one for the faint hearted. There’s daily injections, regular scans, trigger shots, egg retrieval, fertilisation and then finally transfer …..
After the transfer there’s the daily progesterone suppositories. I was advised to wait two weeks and then to take a pregnancy test and inform the clinic. After all this effort it had had to have worked hadn’t it? No, I’m afraid it was yet another negative pregnancy test for me. That was it then. We had been given one shot. Had literally out all of our eggs in one basket and it hadn’t worked.
After that I was a broken woman. I didn’t have the strength to carry on anymore. I was in a very dark place. Infertility and the fact that I felt I couldn’t do the one thing I felt I should be able to do by having a baby had all but destroyed me. They say what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Well I wasn’t strong, I was weak. I was a mere shell of my former self. I used to be so happy and outgoing and now here I was retiring from the outside world wanting to hide myself away from the hurt and pain. I couldn’t bear to even be around my friends. They all had babies and although I was of course more than happy for them, seeing them with their babies just brought it home to me what I didn’t have and what I was unlikely to ever have. I couldn’t cope with the pain and emptiness in my heart.
I still continued to try and get pregnant, was still all consumed and obsessed by it, but of course it didn’t happen.
A couple of years passed and I was convinced and finally felt ready to give the IVF another go. This time I underwent a FET. I had two embryos transferred. After the two week wait, I took the pregnancy test as instructed sure it was going to be yet another negative. It wasn’t though, after 7 long, long years I finally had my BFP!!!!!!! I cant find the words to thank my husband enough for giving me the unending and unconditional love and support and strength that he did to hold me up and help me to go through with the process a second time. It was incredibly hard for him too, but he was by constant rock throughout everything.
My entire pregnancy was filled with stress and worry and a sort of denial I guess. I was trying to protect myself from the inevitable. That I would lose this baby too. I don’t have any bump pictures or regular monthly updates like many expectant mothers do. I couldn’t get too attached to the notion that I might actually get to keep this baby. I’d already lost this baby’s twin early on and I was convinced that I’d lose this one too.
The only bump picture I have is one taken of me at 40 weeks. I let my hubby take it as proof that I was in fact pregnant. We have no pictures of us taking our baby home. It just seemed so surreal that he was actually ours to take home. It was all like a dream and it felt that the cruelness could come back into our lives at any time and take him away from us again.
It didn’t though. We got our Beautiful Boy and that baby boy is now 7 years old.
Infertility robbed me. Robbed me of me. I lost myself to heartache and self doubt. I fell into a pit of despair that I thought I’d never be able to climb out of again. I was beaten up and broken beyond repair. I didn’t want to let anyone into my life. I wanted to be alone. Infertility did this to me.
I’m putting this story out here today as my God, I don’t wish another living soul to have to go through what I did and feel so alone and helpless and useless and worthless. You are none of these things and you are never alone.
National Infertility Awareness Week for me is all about opening up, educating people who would otherwise not understand what it is like and being there for others who find themselves in the same situation I was once in.
Thank you for reading