There was a time when I was pretty obsessed with trying to conceive. That positive line appearing in the window of the pregnancy test was ALL that I craved; standing in our bathroom, early morning, full of hope. And yet every month, nothing. Just an empty window.
Late twenties/early thirties, and I had been longing for a baby for some time. I had been experiencing ‘ovary ache’, I couldn’t suppress it. And although I was enjoying a flourishing corporate career in Human Resources, I literally couldn’t stop thinking about becoming a mother, having a family and bringing up my own children.
Unlike a lot of couples, pregnancy did not happen naturally for my husband and I though; we required a great deal of medical intervention to achieve our family. After a year or so of trying, we visited the Doctor, who started the process of investigations. We both had all the standard tests to determine whether or not anything was medically preventing us from getting pregnant, which concluded that nothing was. We were thus diagnosed with unexplained infertility.
We then went on to have three rounds of IUI (none of which were successful) and three rounds of IVF. On the third round of IVF I finally fell pregnant, which, (confirmed at the standard seven week scan), was with twins.
The whole period of trying to conceive though was such a hard time for me; I remember mostly feeling totally helpless. Plus, when you get into IUI and IVF territory, the process of trying for a baby is no longer in the slightest bit exciting or fun, but becomes one long clinical procedure.
It’s invasive, emotionally exhausting and put a lot of pressure on our relationship.
I went through some very dark times during this period of time; I felt lonely and isolated — like no-body else understood. Plus it seemed as though everyone around me was getting pregnant so quickly and easily. I felt as though I didn’t know a single person (offline or online) who had struggled as much as us.
I got through this difficult period of time by doing the following, which I highly recommend to anyone who is going through a similar experience of infertility:
Chatting about it together as a couple, regularly, is healthy and helps a lot. Open communication is key to going through such a difficult time together.
I attended sessions (accessed through the NHS via IVF treatment). This is useful to talk to someone who is not so personally involved in the situation and can offer some help and guidance on coping and keeping positive.
I took up horse-riding and learning to play golf, which were activities I had never tried before. This was a nice distraction and gave me an outlet for my thoughts, as well as a new focus of attention away from making babies.
I was really into running and eating healthy. Exercise is a great way to clear the mind, give you more positive thoughts and make you feel better about yourself. Plus it helps plan the body for possible pregnancy.
We booked and took a few holidays and some mini-breaks away. We went to some lovely places (such as Thailand) or just went away on weekends or days out, and did some nice things together. It was important to escape and experience new adventures together away from the stress.
When I was trying for a baby, I just wanted it to happen immediately. I didn’t want to wait two, three or even six months. And it seemed as though EVERYONE else was pregnant around me. There were bumps and babies everywhere. I felt as though all my friends were becoming pregnant ‘before’ me. Not that it was a race, but even so, I felt as though I was falling way behind. I tried to overcome this by telling my friends how I felt, and they were mostly great at understanding my feelings. This was hard, but talking to them (and being open and honest about our infertility) helped me so much.
Back then (circa 2009) Instagram and blogging weren’t things, and there wasn’t much being shared widely about how people REALLY felt about infertility. There were some basic articles online regarding ‘coping’ but I craved real-life women’s experiences. Thankfully, more and more people are open and honest on this subject now, so do reach out to other people going through the same — it helps to connect with people in the same position as you. They totally get it.
Finally, for us, we had a happy ending, as our boy & girl twins, Harry & Lottie were born at 36 weeks + 3 days by caesarian section. He weighed 6lb 7oz and she weighed 5lb 13oz. I therefore feel incredibly blessed and happy that it worked out for us.
But, as you can see from this post, the emotions of that time will never leave me. I still remember vividly how I felt. So let’s keep the conversation about infertility going, and continue to keep talking about coping with it. Because it IS so common, it touches and affects so many of us, and we need to share our experiences, together.
Written by Editor, Jess Soothill