So firstly, some exciting news if you’ve not already seen via my Instagram account. I’m pregnant! We’re obviously over the moon and bursting with joy. But I think it’s important I share our full story.
You see so many people announce they’re pregnant on social media and assume it just happened quickly for them. Appearances can be deceiving.
In the last few years, I’ve seen how much misery infertility can cause, through some very close friends and the whole thing is just so heartbreaking and unfair. I’ve met some inspirational women who have been through so much. So when it came to my own fertility I was naturally a little nervous and apprehensive, having had my eyes opened to the challenges that some face.
When you’re in school you get constantly told to use protection and not have sex in case you get pregnant. It leads you to believe that if the condom splits once you’ve got a high chance of getting pregnant. And it also terrifies you. I remember getting the morning after pill a few times over the years when I probably didn’t need to.
But you see, the thing is, some people really do get pregnant after having sex once. Some women only take a month or two to conceive. They stop taking their birth control and then they’re shocked to discover they’re pregnant so soon. Whereas for others, it can take years.
1 in 7 couples in the UK experience fertility problems. Most couples will conceive within a year according to the NHS. A recent survey of 1,194 parents found the couples surveyed had sex 78 times on average before conceiving.
I think more should be done to teach young women about infertility, the need to start trying earlier if you can and to get checked. Maybe a more balanced approach to sex and some education on fertility earlier in life would be more helpful. Then hopefully fewer women will reach their 30’s, start trying for a baby and then discover they have an issue and should have started trying earlier.
So basically it’s not always as easy as it looks
Life is unfair sometimes. Some people get what they want without a hiccup, and others spend years trying. And seeing those who can’t conceive go through such a difficult time is heart-wrenching.
Now we by no means had the hardest time, but we didn’t have the easiest either. Though it was upsetting at the time, and it tested us, I’m now grateful for our journey because it’s made me so much more appreciative of what I now have. But I’ve got friends who are still struggling and have been for three to five years. Then others get pregnant right away. How is that fair?
The pain that comes from infertility is one of the most hurtful feelings you can experience. The one thing you want most in the world you can’t have, and you literally can’t focus on anything else.
I think one of the most frustrating things about infertility is the people who have it easy, and their complete lack of understanding. It’s not their fault, they’ve got no idea how it feels. But from what I’ve seen and experienced, infertility is a lonely place. You feel like no one really gets it. Other people get on with their lives having babies and playing happy families, and aren’t really all that sensitive to those who are having a rough time.
Try not to think about it, they say. Why don’t you focus on something else for a little while, they say. Well, when you want a baby that badly, doing these things is simply impossible. You can’t just get rid of the feeling of wanting a baby more than anything else in the world. You can’t switch off from your thoughts, hormones and emotions. You might be able to set yourself other challenges in life and work on other things, but that’s not easy when your mind always goes back to the baby thing.
Our fertility story
We weren’t one of those couples who conceived instantly. But we certainly haven’t had the worst time either. We eventually got lucky. Though I think it’s still important to share our story, because it’s probably far more common than people realise.
The hubby and I had the discussion about babies/marriage/buying a house and we realised we couldn’t afford to do it all at once, and had to decide on priorities. We both said we wouldn’t mind having kids before getting married, as this was the most important goal to us. But we definitely got caught up in the whole wedding whirlwind with all our friends being already married, and me piling on the pressure for a proposal. We had an incredible wedding, and whilst I’d never change the way things have happened, if I could go back knowing how hard it can be to make a baby, I’d probably prioritise that above anything else.
We knew in the lead up to the wedding that we didn’t want to put off trying for a baby any longer. So three months before the big day, I had my coil removed (yes, ouch) knowing that it wouldn’t be an issue if I did fall pregnant just before the wedding. It took quite a few months for my body to settle back into normal periods after the coil came out.
We started trying properly in the December and initially it was very exciting. Something changes between you when you realise you’re trying to make a human. It brings you closer and feels like you’ve entered a monumental stage in your relationship. This is when expectations can be unrealistic. You get your hopes and your excitement up, thinking each time you have sex you could be pregnant (which is obvs true but just not for everyone).
I remember the first few months when it didn’t happen I started to feel that pang of disappointment and disbelief. Oh, how naive I was. I had no idea at that time that it would take 1.5 years of trying and we’d have a few hurdles to overcome.
The months passed, three, six, nine months of trying. And as we approached the year mark the real worries started to creep in and I wasn’t coping very well. It sounds stupid, but after I lost my dad, I’ve always had this niggling fear that for some reason I won’t be able to have kids. All my past worries and insecurities were overwhelming me, and the hubby also started to struggle.
I knew that time was ticking and soon we’d have to go and get checked out, but I was nervous about what the outcome might be. After we’d been trying for a year we went to our doctor and got referred to a fertility clinic. They ran various standard tests and we discovered that things were all good with Will’s little swimmers, and it was in fact me that was the problem.
After having my bloods and general health checked, I had to have a HyCoSy test where you have an internal scan to check all your bits are ok. This is then followed by dye being flushed through your fallopian tubes in order to check they aren’t blocked. If the dye passes through OK, you’re all good. If it doesn’t go through one of the tubes, or both, you’ve got a problem. Look, I know I’m currently preggers and will have to go through childbirth, but I’d say this procedure was one of the most painful things I’ve experienced. And not tooting my own horn here, but I think generally I’ve got an OK pain threshold.
I had to fight not to pass out from the pain. It started off OK, they managed to get the dye through one of my tubes, but it wasn’t going through the other. So they flush more and more dye, which increases the pain. So whilst in great discomfort and quite distressed, I got told by the doctor that one of my tubes was blocked – with no real explanation of what that meant for our childbearing future. Naturally, I came out of the examination room and burst out crying.
We had to wait for a follow-up appointment with the specialist which was two weeks later in order to find out what having one tube blocked means. Of course, I was tempted to Google it, but we wanted to hear from the horse’s mouth rather than getting terrified by theories on the internet.
In this appointment, I also found out that my egg count is low. Oh, and because of the blocked tube, I have a higher risk of having an ectopic pregnancy. Three blows. A whole load of panic erupted inside me. Why couldn’t it just be simple? Why did there have to be something wrong with me? The doc said that because one of my tubes is blocked, that effectively every other month is a dud because the egg doesn’t make it down the tube and just gets absorbed back into my body. We had a 50% less chance of getting preggers than normal couples. Or at least this is what we understood.
He explained that because of my low egg count and blocked tube, we may qualify for IVF. So we could go down the IVF route or there was another option to try first. They could perform a minor operation to take a look at my tube to try to see what’s causing the blockage. And if they could clear it they would do it there and then. Though this would delay IVF and they may find they can’t do anything anyway. We initially decided to go ahead with the operation and I was waiting to get a date booked in when the specialist changed his mind, and recommended we go straight for IVF instead. He said the reason for this is because of my low egg count, time was of the essence. Change of plan. We put in an application for IVF.
Our own little miracle
Now here comes the curved ball. Whilst waiting for IVF to be approved – I FELL PREGNANT! I know! I can’t even explain what a rollercoaster these few weeks were. From thinking, we were going to face an epic battle to get pregnant, to it somehow happening and our prayers being answered.
We cried our eyes out and took several days to believe the pregnancy test was correct. When you want something so badly and it eventually happens, the feeling is incredible. After months and moths of disappointing negative pregnancy tests, reaching really low points and drowning in our sorrows together – the universe handed us a get out of jail free card.
We wondered why it had happened then after all the problems and issues. And personally, I reckon it was one of two things. A) We had sort of given up trying naturally and our minds were focussed on IVF, we were distracted and so it just happened. Or perhaps the more likely explanation B) I honestly think that tube flushing procedure woke up my good tube. Because I fell pregnant the first month that I ovulated on the good side.
I’d been told by the nurse and a few people that this tube dye test often miraculously helps couples fall pregnant afterwards, and maybe that’s what happened with us. I don’t know. In terms of what the future holds for us trying to conceive again, I’ve no idea how that will go. All I know is I’m so incredibly grateful for this gift I have been given. I wouldn’t appreciate it anywhere near as much as if we’d just fell pregnant straight away.
The first 12 weeks were so scary because, after everything, I was praying we’d see a healthy foetus at our 12-week scan. Because of my high risk of having an ectopic pregnancy due to the blocked tube, we qualified for an early scan at 6 weeks on the NHS. They picked up a heartbeat at 6 weeks which was such a relief and a really good sign, although nothing was really certain until we reached the standard three-month mark.
Now I’m six months pregnant and I’m treasuring every day. I’ve been given a gift that I didn’t know whether I could have, so I’m putting this baby first and providing the best darn home for it that I can. I’m eating well, I’m exercising and I’m trying to work on my anxiety and mental wellness. As I mentioned earlier, we certainly haven’t had the worst journey, but as you can see, it wasn’t plain sailing.
We had a taste of what it was like to struggle with fertility and it’s honestly the worst feeling in the world. If you fell pregnant straight away, spare a thought for the women that are going through fertility treatment, and sometimes, with no success. When I have my little one in my arms, I will remind myself of the dark days where I was heartbroken, praying to get pregnant. And I’m going to pour my soul into being the best mum I can be and give this little one the wonderful life they deserve.