My Fertility Journey
I am now a proud mummy of a beautiful 16-month old toddler with another baby soon to arrive, but there once was a time when I didn’t think I would ever be blessed with one child. It took my husband and I many years to get to this stage in our lives and I would like to share this journey with you.
The Journey Begins:
I wanted to share this story with you as I know infertility and miscarriage is something that many woman struggle with, yet it’s still very much a taboo subject. My journey started 2 years after M and I were married. We thought it time to start a family. Naively, I thought it would happen straight away, as soon as we started trying and that, boom, 9 months later a beautiful healthy baby would appear. That was not the path laid out for us. After about 9 months of trying for a baby I started to worry “is there something wrong with me?”. A year passed and we made that worrying trip to the doctors. We were told that we could start to undergo some testing for ovulation and then some testing on M. Everything came back fine, “just keep trying” the doctor said, and I was then added to the list to get my tubes checked for blockages.
While we waited on that appointment I started researching ways I could help myself get pregnant. One option I decided to put into action was reflexology. I started an 8 week course of treatments and my reflexologist put me on a juicing diet. Christmas came and went and we ended up getting a late Christmas present…we had finally done it, we were expecting a baby! At that point we had been trying for around 18 months to conceive and I really believe that the reflexology and changes to my diet had helped me. Anyone who has longed for a child will know the huge rush of joy and emotion you feel when you see those 2 lines forming a cross on that pregnancy test, its indescribable. I was around 6 weeks and that weekend we decided to tell our parents and siblings as we were so excited. As you can imagine they were all over the moon, first grandchild on both sides, and they all knew we had been struggling for a while to make this happen. We made the visit to the doctors and I called the clinic to cancel my tube checking appointment, which had now come through.
A week of total elation and then it happened…those red spots appeared. I made that dreaded call to the early pregnancy unit on the Wednesday morning and told them I was experiencing spotting. I was told to call back if it got worse. Thursday was the same and I made the same calls throughout the day. “We can’t see you until Monday”. MONDAY, how can you expect a worried mother to be to wait until Monday to be seen. On Thursday night we made our way to A&E, only to be told there was nothing they could do and that their only duty of care was to ensure that I was healthy. I remember that Friday vividly, I had a job interview for an internal promotion, luckily it was over the phone with some bosses in the US and I was at home as the bleeding continued. That evening I stood in the bathroom with M and we both knew that was the end. That little life was not meant for this world. M managed to get a private scan booked for the Saturday morning and the doctor confirmed that I had miscarried. No other word than devastation covers it. We wanted to commemorate our baby but didn’t know how. We decided to go shopping and buy something that would remind us of our baby. By chance we came across a print of baby shoes while out shopping one day. We knew that this was the perfect commemorative item and we hung it in our bedroom to look at every day and night.
Back to square one:
What followed were some very dark months. I felt so depressed and every time I heard of friend’s pregnancies I would torture myself, it felt like every time I opened up Instagram someone was posting more sonogram pictures announcing their pregnancy or pictures of themselves pregnant. Obviously I was happy for the couple but I would torment myself with the question “why is it not me?” “what’s wrong with me?”. One day I couldn’t even face work and said I had to leave early for the day as I was unwell. Throughout this journey I had been to psychics to give me insight and people were always advising me on things to do and ways to make myself feel better. I remembered one of the things that kept cropping up was “The Secret”. What was this? Someone told me there was a movie and a book. So I went home and turned on Netflix and sat for the next hour and a half watching it. This was the turning point for me to get my mind right. I would advise if you are lost, seeking a new path, need uplifted, questioning your life, then this is the answer. The Secret teaches you the law of attraction and visualisation of your goals. What you plant in your mind, be it positive or negative, just like the things you plant in a field, these thoughts will grow. I knew I had to stop focusing on the fact that I wasn’t getting pregnant and to start visualising myself pregnant with the life I desired. In the weeks to follow I bought the book and still to this day practice its teachings.
We were officially in the category of “Unexplained Infertility”, so we saw the doctor again and we were added to the NHS list for IVF treatment. The 18-month wait seemed like an eternity as we had already been trying for over 2 years by that point.
I want to stop for a moment here and say that everything I was going through my husband was experiencing also. I think that in these situations the men get forgotten about, he was just as desperate for this as I was and supported me when I said I wanted to go on a juicing diet, have reflexology, see a psychic, attend a fertility seminar or any other hair brained idea I looked into with the hopes that it would make me “more fertile”. We were lucky enough that we stood together through it all and that our marriage grew in strength, as I know other couples have been pushed apart in circumstances like this.
We were also lucky that M is a good saver and we had some saving, so when I said to M that a private fertility clinic was having an open evening we went along. We decided after Christmas we would go ahead with the private treatment. We started treatment for IVF in January. All in all, treatment was a relatively quick process. The trauma your body goes through is not so easy. IVF is a hard process. We told no one we were having the treatment done, to ease the pressure on an already stressful procedure. The process involved some testing that we had already been though so were familiar with…then I was prescribed the drugs to stimulate egg production. So, you are given pills to take at first, then come the injections. All timed and monitored. I didn’t care that I was feeling awful I just kept focusing on the fact that I would see my baby soon. After a couple of weeks of this my follicles had been adequately stimulated, or rather in my case, brought to the brink of over stimulation. My operation for egg retrieval was scheduled and I was told in a best case scenario they could retrieve 10-15 eggs.
I awoke from the surgery and asked M “do I have good eggs”, then passed out again. When I came round for the second time the doctor came to speak to me and said that they had retrieved 29 eggs! I thought great, but apparently I had been over stimulated and produced far too many eggs. The doctor had advised that they would go ahead and fertilise as many of the eggs that they could but due to my over-stimulation they weren’t willing to implant any embryos we might have and would freeze them for implantation at a later date. The next few days were agonising as we had to wait to see if any embryos were made and lived, and I was determined I was going to get myself better for the implantation to take place as I wasn’t waiting! I was in a lot of pain and had organised the week off work and rested. We heard back from the clinic that we had 8 embryos, then a few days later we only had 1. Out of 29 eggs we got 1 embryo! We pinned all our hopes on that one little embryo and then I went back in for testing to see if my body had recovered and I was able to go ahead with the implantation, as I had been quite insistent with the doctor and nurses that I wanted the implantation. My sheer determination and persistence had paid off and I had recovered well and was able to get the implantation done. The process was magnificent, we watched on the monitor as that little embryo was placed into my uterus and then we said a silent prayer that it would cling on in there and we would see its wonderful face in 9 months’ time. The next 14 days of waiting were agonising, I wanted to wrap myself in cotton wool. On day 10, those red spots appeared, and kept coming. We went for our results appointment at the clinic and they said to me “we’ll do the test but I think you know what the results will be”. Another lose, another blow. With the number of eggs and embryos we had lost M said to me that he felt he’d lost multiple babies this time.
Almost round 2:
We decided to go away for the weekend and regroup. We made the decision to get on with life and stop putting things on hold. This was now a year since we had lost our first baby. We talked about trying IVF privately again but I just wasn’t ready for my body to go through the trauma again, as it wasn’t just a simple case of having an embryo implanted, it would be starting the whole process again with egg retrieval, as none of our embryos had survived. So we stopped putting life on hold and decided to buy a new house and focus on something other than having a baby. I continued to look after myself; tried acupuncture for relaxation, maintained my healthy eating regime and light exercise.
A few months later I came home to an NHS letter saying that we were now at the top of the NHS IVF list. Feeling apprehensive about starting the whole process again we went for our appointment. Basics had to be done again and while we chatted about our upcoming holiday the nurse weighed me and said your “BMI (body mass index) is lower than 18.5, we can’t treat you on the NHS”. I have always been petite, with a height of 5foot 1inches and coming from a very petite family, I never thought it strange. Questions suddenly started to swirl in my mind, was this the reason I couldn’t conceive, were my eggs poor quality because of my weight? The nurse said to me go on your holiday eat, eat, eat, drink milkshakes, eat burgers, come back in and we’ll weigh you again. So that’s what we did. We went to Vegas with my brother in law and his lovely wife, we ate and enjoyed ourselves immensely. We had our appointment scheduled for the weigh in, but a few weeks before that, a little over a month after our return from holiday, and the week we signed the paperwork on our new house, I found out I was expecting. The saying “you need to make space in your life for new things to come into it”, felt very poignant here, as we now literally had a spare room for a child in our new home.
This time elation was overshadowed with fear. Would this pregnancy make it past the 7-week point? 3 years down the line, did I only have to put on a little more weight to conceive? I used all my positive affirmations and focused on making it to 40 weeks and having that healthy baby in my arms. I repeated my positive affirmations and visualised myself with a growing bump every day. Week 7 passed, each scan passed, 20 weeks passed until I had finally made it to my 40-week mark. Even though I suffered from morning sickness and other common symptoms of pregnancy I never once complained about it. I was grateful for every minute of it because this whole experience had taught me that so many women in the world are not as lucky as me and will never get the opportunity to grow a life. On the 13th April 2016, as corny as it sounds, our dream came true and we had a healthy 7lbs 7oz baby boy born by Cesarean Section. I remember the midwife saying to me “you look too happy to be in labour” and I said “I’ve been waiting 3 years to meet this little person and the time is finally here”.
When I look back on my journey I say to myself “I had to go through all that to grow as a person”. Growth is so important in life, if you are not growing your relationships they are dying, if you are not growing your business it’s dying. So, I learned a lot through this growth;
Compassion– you have no idea what’s going on in another person’s life- the reason they dismiss you is not necessarily an issue with you but some other issue going on in their life that you have no clue about, they might have just had an argument with their spouse or they might be worried that their child is being bullied at school. I will never flaunt my pregnancies on social media or in public as I know it can cause pain to others struggling
Truly value my children– on days when I’m exhausted from cleaning up and changing poo nappies, I just remember that my children are the best thing in my life, they will always be so longed for and loved and I will always let them know that I’m truly grateful for them.
Help others- I want to share my fertility journey with others as so many experience infertility or child lose and never talk about it, if I can say one thing that can help another person then my purpose in life has been fulfilled. I will never forget the baby we lost. The print we bought now hangs in the nursery and we like to think that baby watches over their little brother each night as he sleeps
Positive outlook in life– This whole experience led me to some new beliefs and attracted some fantastic people into my life. I know now how to properly appreciate people and show them my appreciation on a daily basis
My Fertility Lifestyle Tips from My Journey
- AVOID heavy meats
- AVOID wheat based products- supermarket breads and items with anti mould preservatives
- Sweets/ chocolate (try dark chocolate instead)
- Junk food/ Takeaways- pizzas/ kebabs/ burgers
- Eat the right breads
- Juicing- it’s the easiest way to get your greens everyday
- Eat nuts
- Brazil Nuts
- Almonds- my personal favs and help with stress
You can soak them for 24 hours to help with digestion
- Eat wholegrains
- Organic brown rice
- Choose a high fibre diet- helps sweep out the colon- make sure your colon is clean before starting a high fibre diet
- Clean out your colon
- Soluble Fibre– help increase the amount of bacteria
- Oats, rice, barley
- Legumes, beans, peas
- Citrus- apples
- Insoluble Fibre– prevents constipation
- Rye, barley, brown rice
- Brussel Sprouts
- Consume 22-36g of fibre a day
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day- add lemon slice for a better taste
- Eat foods rice in Omega 3
- Oily fish- mackerel
- Substitute Himalayan Pink Crystal Salt in your cooking for the processed salt you usually use
- Don’t eat heavy meals before bed
- Relax before sleep- take a bath in Himalayan Pink Salt Crystals
- Sleep in darkened room
- Meditation apps are good to lull you into sleep