***If you are experiencing difficulties falling pregnant please read on… I promise you’ll no longer feel alone, and you might even have a little giggle…***
Our journey started in January 2008. It was supposed to be a joyous 9 month journey of pregnancy and the commencement of our own family. It wasn’t supposed to be (according to me) a journey of infertility, heartache and confusion. It wasn’t supposed to be a roller coaster of emotions, of poking & prodding, injections & doctors appointments. The medical receptionists weren’t meant to know me by name because I wasn’t pregnant. That wasn’t part of the plan. My plan.
After over 5 years of marriage (& a ‘5 year plan’) and having established ourselves well into our careers, built our own home and traipsed around the world, my husband & I were ‘ready’ to start a family. We knew you could never truly be ready, truly be prepared for the incredible change a child would bring to your world and your relationship, but we were ready to find out.
Naivety was my first ‘mistake’, for want of a better word. After having been absolutely meticulous with contraceptives for the last 5 years (wasn’t that a waste of valued dollars in hindsight!) and having seen one too many friends fall pregnant by ‘accident’ it seemed as simple as having unprotected sex. I barely even knew about ovulation or timing or the ‘obstacle course’ that sperm had to battle through to reach an egg. All that was yet to come. But January 2008: unprotected sex. Done. Several times ;-). Tick that box. Again, again, & once more to be sure (not all on the same night!). We even had the hide and the audacity, dare I admit, to hope & ‘try’ for a baby of a certain sex first…hubby had always felt that any daughter needed an older protective brother, and having never had one myself I thought “Sure, why not? It can’t hurt.” So we tried a few ‘techniques’ (old wives tales more like) and were pretty pleased with our efforts.
Then we started the waiting game, all along feeling quietly confident. Much to my delight, I missed my period, and I was always ‘regular’ (ish). Not always did my period start on the same day, but it was regular none the less. I had literally one tiny spot (enough to make my heart skip a beat in the fear that I wasn’t pregnant) but that was it. It certainly wasn’t my normal period, so I had to be pregnant, right? The first pregnancy test came back negative and I put that down to it being too early, because we were so eager to find out. Then the second test also came back negative and I started to become less confident, but came up with another excuse. I figured that as my mum didn’t find out that she was pregnant with me until a blood test revealed it at 3 months (urine tests kept coming back negative), I thought the same could happen to me (all be it 27 years ago and no doubt technology has improved since then, but I didn’t dwell on that!).
We entered the second month and tried again to ‘seal the deal’ so to speak, to make sure & certain…but then my period came, and with it, a flood of tears. I later learnt that you can actually trick your body into believing it’s pregnant and in hindsight think that’s what I must’ve done to skip a period previously, because that had never happened before. Not intentionally, but simply out of the sheer expectation, excitement and certainty that I would be. That it was that easy. Why wouldn’t it be?
Still, we both tried to justify it with stories of people who’d still menstruated once they were pregnant (talk about grasping at straws!). There was still the possibility we told ourselves… Tears after the second month of trying now seem ridiculous after another 54 attempts, but those were the emotions at the time.
I’ll admit to at this time feeling pretty disillusioned and confused as to what was happening. Everything else in my life had gone totally according to plan, so why not now? I decided though that this just a minor deviation and I was secure enough in my faith to know that God’s plans were always better. Besides, people had infertility issues didn’t they? If you looked at our group of friends and the children appearing from everywhere, it almost made sense that someone had to have ‘issues’. And that was us.
As time went on though, it started to become apparent that this ‘journey’ wasn’t going to be as easy as I’d expected. This certainly wasn’t going to ‘plan’, so what now? We consoled ourselves with research and the reassurance that falling pregnant was actually quite a difficult feat, that the odds most certainly were stacked against us. How ironic then all the teenage pregnancies, the unwanted pregnancies, the accidental pregnancies. One begins to feel surrounded by pregnancy. All of a sudden there’s what appears to be a ‘baby boom’. There are more pregnant women around than you’ve ever seen in your life. You can’t escape them. Everyone’s talking about it and can’t seem to talk about anything else. Friends whom you didn’t even know were trying, or who weren’t trying, are suddenly telling you they’re pregnant.
I’d dreamt previously with one of my best friends about falling pregnant at the same time, raising our kids together etc. When she’d found out that we were going to start trying she laughed apologetically and said I was on my own, they weren’t ready yet!… Of course she fell pregnant and had two beautiful boys before we had our first!
So then began the monthly cycle: period, attempt, waiting game, period, attempt (different style perhaps), waiting game, period, attempt, waiting game, period (sometimes a little rant “Why God, why????!!!!”), attempt (daily, every second day, morning, night?????), waiting game, period (sometimes a few tears), attempt, waiting game…the waiting was the absolute hardest, by far. Particularly with a cycle that could vary generally between say 24-32 days…quite often I’d have to wait a week after I was ‘due’ before I’d see signs of my period coming and that was always so hard. The “am I / aren’t I?” game. You’re desperately hoping you are, but don’t want to actually get your hopes up. I’d pray: “If I’m not, just give me my period, don’t keep me waiting like this.” Hubby never said much, but I knew he was also waiting, hoping…. He was just as in tune with my cycle (which suddenly I’d learnt so much about, no naivety there anymore!) as I was, if not more so. One month it was 46 days from one period to the next and that almost drove me crazy. You go that long and you actually start believing “Could this be it?” “It has to happen sometime right?” “One of these days I’m going to do a pregnancy test and it’s actually going to read positive (which is so hard to imagine at this stage), so it could be now, right?” Then, waiting with baited breath as you take another pregnancy test (you rarely do them now because you can’t bear your heart breaking when the reading comes back negative) but alas, nothing.
When I found out that I wasn’t pregnant, I’d react in different ways. Every now and then it was a tiny temper tantrum, once or twice I had a good cry, sometimes it was just a shrug of the shoulders and a “let’s just try again” mentality, sometimes it was a shake of the head and an “I knew I couldn’t have been anyway” attitude and other times it was just “whatever”…..
Generally this didn’t last long though and then life would just carry on as normal again until the next waiting game commenced. Never though did I believe that I wouldn’t one day fall pregnant. I can honestly say I had no doubt I would be a Mum to my own biological children.
All this mumbo jumbo though about mucas and ovulation tests (lick a stick and wait for fig leaves to appear), what the????!!!! They weren’t for me. I’m sure they must work for some, but they didn’t work for me.
Then there’s the awful world of miscarriage and friends who’d suffered through that and a stab of guilt runs through me as I think “Well at least they know they can fall pregnant”… not that I’d wish that on anybody. That’s one set of emotions I’ve never experienced and I always say no one can truly understand unless they’ve been through it themselves. That emotional roller coaster is one I can’t even comprehend, my heart aches just thinking about it.
There were other triggers to contribute to the roller coaster and it was never consistent. It probably largely depended on where I was at in my cycle and the hormones that coincided with that. Like I said, I was literally surrounded by babies. Some baby showers would get to me, others wouldn’t. Some Christmases would get to me, others wouldn’t (pregnancies announced at Christmas weren’t fun). Some get-togethers would get to me, others wouldn’t. One bad one in particular was a reunion for a friend visiting from the U.S. made up of my childhood friends, many younger than me, all of whom now had at least one, if not multiple, children. That was really hard. What a blessing came out of that day though when a random Facebook message came from one of the husbands who knew a bit about our ‘situation’ and whose wife was just pregnant with their 2nd. They commended us on our outlook, persistence and genuine excitement towards those expecting or with children and that meant so much to me. Because behind that sometimes fake smile, behind the eyes that were trying to shine (or were they glistening with tears?), behind a protective guard, was a heart that was breaking. There was a definite yearning and desire to have what they all had, to have what I considered to be rightfully mine, but when would the time come? Always, always though, was there genuine joy and delight for those friends of mine who’d succeeded. Bitterness and resentment were not permitted in my heart. I’d have friends afraid to tell me they were pregnant (what, as if I wouldn’t find out lol!) simply because they felt bad that for them it came so easily, and they knew for me it didn’t. But I knew that our time would come.
I found it easier to be relatively honest with people. They didn’t need to know everything, but they could know we were TTC (ha, “trying to conceive”, an abbreviation you pick up from reading online forums!) It kept them off my back with their incessant “when are you going to have a baby?” They usually then felt quite sheepish for asking and that shut them up (or they had their own story to tell about how long it took them or someone they knew…everyone has a story!) Oh, and suggestions! If I hear one more person tell me to “just forget about it” (if anyone out there has successfully done this I would LOVE to hear from you! Tell me, how do you ‘forget’ that you’re trying to have a baby!!!!????) or to “go on a holiday” (of which there have been plenty!) I’ll……… well, I don’t know, but it won’t be pretty! “Don’t stress” (yeah, that’s a good one too), “Quit your job” (tick!), “Put your legs up over your head” (done that!)…any more suggestions anyone? I almost even got sucked in to buying some surefire, 100% guaranteed online self-help book but hubby talked me out of that one… desperate times call for desperate measures people!
Would you believe, despite what it sounds like, I actually wouldn’t call myself ‘consumed’ with this whole pregnancy thing. I wanted to carry on with my life, focus on my marriage and relationship with my husband, work, socialise, have fun! Some people can get so obsessed with it that it consumes who they are and everything they do. I didn’t want to be that person. Besides, I knew my time would come…
It’s probably become ‘easier’ as the journey’s progressed because no longer do you really think you could be pregnant. You’re more expecting not to be. I do however keep waiting for that ‘milestone’, that ‘answer’, that will lead to my pregnancy. “Yes, it was while we were on holidays”. “Yep, it was because I quit my job.” “Yeah, it was because of some lesson I learnt.” But alas, nothing yet…
Click here for Part 2 of our Infertility Journey: IVF / ICSI – Acceptance & Preparation
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