Back in 2015 we had a delightful little toddler who still wasn’t sleeping through (!) but we decided that adding another to the mix wouldn’t be a bad idea. At 33 I was still feeling pretty good about my chances of having more babies - number one had been conceived within 4 months of coming off the pill after 25 years and his entire pregnancy and birth was pretty easy - this one should be the same surely. We waited until December 2015 to “properly” start trying as heaven forbid I had a summer baby and wasted my teachers holiday on maternity leave! I had it all planned out:
- fall pregnant between December and March
- give birth between September and December
- go back to work for last day of summer term
- get paid over summer and return “properly” in September
By April 2016 we had still not fallen pregnant and my plan was dwindling before my eyes - I just assumed another summer baby may be on the cards and I should just stop worrying about maximising my maternity pay (it doesn’t help that I’m married to an accountant!). After 6 months I went to the doctor as I just knew something wasn’t right - thankfully, given that I was almost 34 (and lied and said I’d been trying for a year!) they referred me and hubby for the preliminary tests hormone / semen analysis tests. All came back fine so I was told to keep trying. After a few more months I went back to the doctor and insisted they check for anything else - this doctor was more sympathetic and referred me to a specialist at the local hospital. I was insanely lucky and got seen within about 12 weeks. So now it’s 2017 and I’m booked in for more blood tests, scans, an HSG (scan whilst having due pumped into your lady area!) to check tubes were open and clear - and all good. Picture of fertility health apparently! Still not pregnant though!
They decided to try me on Clomid - a drug that increases ovulation (despite the fact my cycles were perfectly regular and all scans and tests showed I was ovulating regularly!) and in the first month on it I was told to prepare for twins! Still didn’t fall pregnant! The second month wiped me out - I couldn’t handle the side effects and I decided to stop taking it as I knew I ovulated so that clearly wasn’t the issue.
We decided to take some time off from planning intercourse, taking basal body temperature each morning, tracking my cycle and just chill out and see what happened. Still didn’t fall pregnant! By March 2018 I was at breaking point and a trip away with my school tipped me over the edge - I realised how utterly sad I was with everything and we decided to bite the bullet and go for IVF. We had already spoken to some clinics and had an initial discussion with the one we went with in the end. Again more tests, scans and semen analysis - more great results that didn’t tell us anything. But the consultant said one thing I haven’t forgotten: “You have secondary, unexplained infertility - it doesn’t mean there’s nothing wrong with you, it means we’re not clever enough to know what it is yet”. Finally someone was telling me something was wrong - I knew it! I didn’t care that they didn’t know what it was, I was just glad that someone was acknowledging that I wasn’t going crazy.
The road to an IVF baby is never easy and I made it slightly more complicated in three ways:
Firstly, I got myself a nice little ovarian cyst just as I was due to start medication to prepare my ovaries for egg collection - that delayed us for a month but wasn’t a big deal in the end.
Secondly, a scan to check my uterus was clear and ready for implantation showed some scar tissue and possible fibroid. Brilliant! Cue conversation about paying to have it all removed privately or wait for the nhs to help us out.
Our dilemma was answered a few weeks later when I realised I didn’t have my period yet - left it a few days and thought the stress may have messed things about a bit but no - I was apparently pregnant for the first time in 3 years! Early scans showed it was twins! I walked around in shock for a few weeks until a scan at 8 weeks revealed one baby had disappeared (vanishing twin syndrome) and the other had no heart beat. On my husbands birthday I miscarried. On Christmas Eve 2018 it was confirmed with the worst timed scan appointment in the world.
Again we took some time out and decided to wait for the NHS procedure to check all was ok for the previously planned IVF embryo transfer. Then everything went at 100mph! On a Wednesday in June 2019 the camera showed a clear uterus with no fibroids or scar tissue. Two days later our IVF consultant said we could start medication for the transfer the first day of my next cycle. Three days later I was in the IVF clinic picking up my meds and having more blood tests and scans. After 17 days on 3rd July we had one healthy embryo transferred in a simple procedure. Two weeks later we found out it stuck and we’re now at 21 weeks with a little girl to add to our brood. It’s been a long road and we’re not done yet - our little one has a heart condition which is likely to need surgery but she’s survived egg collection, fertilisation, being grown in a lab for 5 days, chromosomal testing, freezing, thawing and implantation. She’s a fighter so we won’t worry unless we have to.
Infertility is the hardest thing I have ever been through in my entire life. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone and I have complete love, understanding and empathy for anyone else going through it. Counselling really helped us through this process and I would recommend it to anyone. It helped me talk to someone who just knew what I was going through and it helped my husband understand how to support me and that it was ok that he couldn’t fix everything. I would recommend to anyone to talk to someone - not a family member but just someone you can sob in front of and slag off people who have said stupid things to you without any comeback! I can’t tell you how many times I was told it would be ok because I was “still young”, or “already had one” so should “be grateful” or to “just relax”! Not helpful! I did the stupid thing and took on more and more at work and personally in the hope it would stop the constant thoughts about babies and the possibility of my son not having the sibling he so wanted. I worked myself into the ground, I was back in work the day after I miscarried - I had to carry on as normal or it might all be real. I realised after that day I needed to reevaluate and got a new job - part time thankfully! - that was closer to home. I have never been happier and now I’m not taking for granted my own health and happiness by taking on more than I need to.
Written by a friend of Yummikeys who wishes to remain anonymous.