My story starts back in 2010. My husband and I had been trying to conceive for a couple of years and it just wasn’t happening. I was working in London, living on the south coast and doing shift work with very little sleep in between.
I had been feeling stressed and frustrated and there had been a few tearful meltdowns but one morning I finally broke down and felt totally out of control.
I wasn’t suicidal but I had certainly been questioning my worth, feeling like my existence was pointless and I felt permanently miserable. I went home that day and, in the end, never went back. All the stress I was under ultimately cost me my job. My family were worried and I knew I needed to get myself back in a good place but it wasn’t easy.
Fortunately, after some counselling and a lot of support from my family, I was starting to feel ‘normal’. I applied for a few jobs and managed to get one and we soon started trying for a baby again.
Eventually, in 2012, after one miscarriage, a lot of quite invasive procedures, investigations and appointments at a fertility clinic, we started IVF. It was brutal. Anyone who has gone through it will know that it is physically and emotionally demanding and can test even the strongest of relationships. However, hand in hand we got through it and we are truly blessed to now be incredibly proud parents to our beautiful son.
There were many times when I wondered if we would ever hold a baby of our own and I still wake up every morning (regardless of how much sleep I’ve had) feeling overwhelmingly grateful for my wonderful little family.
We had always said that we wanted two children – it was simply part of the plan – so a few years later we went back to the clinic. We still had four little embryos from our first round of IVF and were feeling quite hopeful. The first Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) treatment went well and despite a significant bleed at six weeks, the scan showed that we were pregnant….. with twins! It took a bit of getting used to but we were soon buzzing with excitement and talking about how we would make changes around the house to accommodate two more little people.
My husband was working on the day I went for a ten week scan but we were feeling so confident that we agreed I would go on my own. The silence was when my heart started to sink. And then those words, “I’m so sorry.” No heartbeats. I lay on that bench feeling alone, desperately sad, empty and stupid for actually having believed that this pregnancy could have worked.
The next year and a half took us through another round of FET, three more pregnancies (two very unexpected natural ones), four more miscarriages and two lots of surgery for incomplete miscarriage. One of the miscarriages turned out to be an ectopic that resulted in emergency surgery and the removal of one of my tubes. The ectopic pregnancy was discovered just in time as it had already started to rupture and an ectopic can be fatal if not treated.
It was at this point that we really started to question if we could keep going.
However, with two embryos still waiting, there was no way that we could just give up on those potential little lives. We went through what was to be our last round of FET in May this year. One of our embryos didn’t survive the thawing process and although I did get pregnant, that too ended in miscarriage.
All the heart wrenching pain of the miscarriages, the guilt we felt for the misery and jealousy we experienced every time someone else announced their pregnancy and the physical and emotional drain from the medication and treatments involved with IVF – we could deal with that. But to think how close we had come to me not coming home to our son was what brought our journey to an end.
We had done everything we could to give our embryos the best chance but it seems that it wasn’t meant to be.
We gave ourselves a couple of months to recover but knew in our hearts that it all had to stop. I won’t deny that I still hoped for a long time that it might ‘just happen’ but as the weeks and months went on, I became more fearful about all the things that could go wrong if we tried again and actually just started enjoying life again.
It wasn’t until we were out the other side that we realised how much of an impact the IVF and trying to conceive had had on our lives – every thought and action through every day had some kind of association with trying to get pregnant.
I felt angry that all the procedures had taken my mind slightly away from our son and knew that we had so much to be grateful for – it was time to change our focus on life.
Our son started pre-school and I got involved with some fantastic charity work and was stunned when, not so long ago, I heard myself saying to my Mum that actually, I don’t think I want another baby anymore.
I still have flashbacks to some of the heart breaking things we went through and also suffer from occasional anxiety attacks, even when I feel like things are going well. The attacks are triggered by things that are not in my control, just like trying to get pregnant – whatever you do, it’s down to biology in the end but it didn’t stop me feeling like a total failure every time we lost a baby.
I feel stronger for what we have experienced over the last few years, it has certainly given me plenty of practice at digging myself out of the ‘black holes’ and I don’t sweat the small stuff as much. I put myself through a three week swimming, running and cycling challenge to raise money for Tommy’s and feel pleased that I am able to talk openly about my experience, share my story and have been able to empathise and help other people get through similar experiences.
It’s been a rough ride and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I don’t think there is any feeling more powerful than that of a maternal woman and when your journey to being a parent is diverted or halted, it is hard to come to terms with, especially as we are so often led to believe that the journey should be so easy and natural.
But here I am, blessed with a wonderful husband, a beautiful son and the rest of our lives ahead of us. Let the adventures (good ones please) begin!
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