Getting pregnant is the hardest thing I’ve ever done
After 22 months of trying to conceive, Scott and I can finally announce we are having a baby! I am writing this blog to share our experience of making a little human. Please remember this is OUR journey and in no way can be compared with anyone else, but I hope that it may comfort the heartache of just one person who is struggling through infertility, and help them find some peace. Do not feel sorry for us, we are the most blessed people in the world to be able to fall pregnant, and we know of many couples who have had a much harder time than us.
At first, Scott and I tried unsuccessfully for 14 months to make a baby on our own– yes, we were doing it right, and no, we weren’t ‘trying too hard’. I mean honestly, don’t people realise you actually have to TRY to fall pregnant, I ain’t the Virgin Mary…but more on this later! After 14 months, we were referred to a fertility specialist at Repromed (don’t get me started on them yet either!). After multiple blood tests, scans and certain specimens in cups, we were told we had ‘unexplained infertility’, meaning everything checked out ok. However, I was not ovulating frequently, and this makes it damn hard to make a baby. We basically had 4 shots at getting pregnant a year, rather than 12…and that’s only if we knew when I was ovulating and timed it to perfection in those crucial 24 hours – impossible. So stick that in your face anyone who ever told me ‘don’t stress so much!’ I was started on a horrible drug called clomid, which in simple terms made my ovaries do their job. After just 2 cycles on clomid (approx. 16 months after stopping birth control), I fell pregnant. HOORAH! But don’t get too excited just yet…at the 8 week scan, we were told the baby had stopped growing at 5 ½ weeks and there was no heart beat. We were crushed. I can’t even sit here months later typing this without feeling my heart literally breaking inside my chest. I wouldn’t wish that feeling on my worst enemy. I had an operation a couple days later to remove the embryo, and was told to come back for results in 6 weeks’ time. Ok, stop frowning cos here comes the good part! At my appointment 6 weeks later (20 months into trying), I found out I was pregnant again (whaattt!?!) You think you’re shocked! I had somehow – by miracle – ovulated all on my own (who’s the grown up!?) and we had timed that shit to perfection. And here’s where the assholes are saying ‘see, it happened when you weren’t stressing’. Trust me, we were at a very low point and I probably had never been so anxious, sad and stressed in my entire life. So excuse me for wanting to slap those haters in the face. Anyway, so far the pregnancy hasn’t been without caution – I have a double uterus which makes our pregnancy high risk, and I have had some spotting. However, here I am at 17+ weeks with a healthy growing bubba inside me. We are absolutely over the moon and feel like the luckiest and most blessed people in the world to be able to conceive our little miracle, and we do not take this for granted.
So onto the part which I hope is going to reach those out there who are struggling to make a baby. If you aren’t one of these people, I don’t blame you if you don’t read on…but maybe you can take something out of this to help those around you who are having trouble – it is more common than you think, and yes, it is something you can talk about.
I could write pages and pages (actually, a book) on what we call our ‘rollercoaster ride’. It literally is up and down. You get good news (clomid worked and you ovulated), then you get bad news (BAM: your period). And around it goes. I’ve learnt there is nothing worse than having huge expectations, yet having no control over the situation or the outcome. I wrote a journal through all of this and I’m just going to put some things I wrote here which I think sum up our rollercoaster:
“I have wanted things in the past: a home, fitness, a new car. These things were on me; they were in my control and were achievable with motivation, mindset and hard work. But this is totally out of my control no matter how much I work for it – it’s destroying me having no control”
“If you are infertile, no amount of calm can help. If you need to take tablets and time intercourse, there’s only so much you can stop stressing”
“I called in sick to work today (which is totally unlike me unless I’m dying) simply because I felt crappy and couldn’t face it. I sat on the couch and felt so empty and sad that it made me cry. I didn’t even know why”
“I pride myself on my strength, but it’s gone. I’m numb and I’ve given up. I’m sick of putting on a brave face, and no one even noticing that my smiles not real. I feel cheated. The world is against me and I don’t have any hope left to hang on to”
It is almost impossible for me to read the above statements, and in no way do I want people to feel sorry for me or to be saddened by it, but this is so common and I need people to know that they are not alone. So what helped? Talking! I don’t mean go and update your facebook status and let the world comment; but your partner is the only person going through this with you and the only person who will ever understand – talk to him/her. I know it’s difficult to talk to others who aren’t so closely involved, but at least let them know you are struggling and need a shoulder. This might not be for everyone, but it helped me. Your friends and even your family won’t know how to approach the situation, so give them direction. If you are open with them, they will be more receptive. When I was feeling most alone, I remember thinking: if I openly tell people what we’re going through, they may understand that I’m reaching out and it’s not a forbidden topic. So give people guidance as to how open you are willing to be…and if they still don’t check in on you regularly, they certainly aren’t godparent standard.
The Clinical Part
Ok, here’s the Repromed rant. Again, this reading is best suited for those who have to experience this hell…I mean…this clinic. I’ll never forget the first time I went to Repromed. There was a lady at reception, so I approached her and said I was here for a blood test. She replied ‘have you never been here before?’ I said ‘no’, thinking she was going to give me the first time welcome and paperwork to fill in. Oh how wrong was I?! She proceeded to give me a barcoded card with my name and ‘number’ on it and tell me that ‘next time, just walk over to that computer, scan your barcode, select which test you are here for, and take a seat in the waiting room’. That easy, right? Wrong. That first day, I did what I was told, and sat in a room with another 10 ladies, feeling like the smallest person in the world. I was literally a number in a sea of other infertile women. I thought it would make me feel less alone in this experience – there were lots of other women going through something similar. But it was the opposite; I had never felt more alone. This is a warning – it is not a personalised, sympathetic experience. It is clinical, detached and impersonal. You will be called into a room, have bloods or a scan, and sent on your merry way. You will get a text message telling you to ‘please have intercourse this weekend’ (ok so this only happened once!). What is most unfortunate about it is the fact that this is actually the most personal, private and delicate time of your life. The Repromed process is another part of infertility that I would not wish on my worst enemy. After our miscarriage, going back to ‘that place’ is what I was finding the hardest to stomach. Again, I am not in any way saying that this is how other people will find the experience, or that another couple will feel this way. I actually hope whole-heartedly that every other person had the total opposite encounter to us! I have recently even heard a few stories from friends who have had extremely positive and heart-warming encounters with fertility specialists. But I’m not sugar-coating our experience – it was tough. However in saying this, I must admit that one of my fondest memories of this whole rollercoaster was our angel nurse Bronnie at Repromed, who made it all seem just that little bit better. Bless you, magical cherub! Also, Repromed was actually the first bit of hope we had in a long, long time, and it gave us the drive to keep going, so it was not all bad. But let’s hope I never have to go back!
Sorry, I’m not going to sit here and pretend I have the answers. I don’t. My story is completely different to each and every other story. But I guess that in itself is my advice. This is your story – you respond the way you need and the best you can. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are doing it wrong. Don’t let anyone tell you how to be strong, or how to cope. Also, remember my favourite quote: ‘comparison is the thief of joy’. This is tricky to actually put into practice – every single person’s journey to pregnancy is different, so let’s keep it that way. No one’s ride is rougher or tougher than the next. Don’t let people tell you they know how you feel – they don’t. It is extremely helpful hearing similar stories and being able to confide in someone who understands that little bit better, but not so helpful when someone tries to convince you they’ve had it harder. Oh wait, I will give you one piece of advice: ignore the people who say any of these thoughtless phrases: ‘It’ll happen when the times right’. ‘Everything happens for a reason’. ‘Don’t stress so much’. ‘Don’t try so hard’. ‘But it was so easy for me!’ I get it: these people don’t know what to say and nothing is going to sound right. But surely a ‘that sucks’ or ‘I’m so sorry to hear that’ isn’t that difficult? Instead of punching them in the face, I suggest you smile and nod. And I promise you that one day the heartache, the emotional rollercoaster and the hardest thing you have ever experienced will become your story, and it will all be worth it.
Please share this page with anyone & everyone. Help me find those few people who are lying awake googling infertility stories, hoping they will find a glimmer of hope.