Mike and I had been married for just over a year and trying to get pregnant for roughly the same length of time. He was in his 40’s and I was about to hit that 35 years old mark everyone warns women about (tick tock, tick tock), so we both felt it was a good time to start a family. But for whatever reason, I didn’t fall pregnant so we went to see a specialist to get some answers, and boy did we get them.
It was a Friday afternoon. We sat in his office waiting for the results and I remember as he read them out, everything stopped and I felt like my life was over.
He said something like, “it is very unlikely you will ever fall pregnant naturally and at your age, I don’t think you should waste time either, I suggest we start IVF as soon as possible and we may even need to opt for ICSI in your case”.
So many words stood out.
“Waste time”, “your case”, “your age”, “IVF”, ICSI” – I felt sick to my stomach.
We left his office in a state of shock and sat down at a local coffee shop trying to make sense of what we had just heard.
I remember that the first emotion I felt after the initial shock was GUILT.
I was wracking my brains trying to figure out how this my MY FAULT. What I did wrong in the past 35 years that made it impossible for me to conceive naturally. Why did I smoke in my 20’s? Maybe I partied too hard? Why did I wait so long? The thoughts were just racing through my brain while my heart was breaking into a million pieces.
I cried so much that weekend, not just because I no longer had that certainty that I would someday have my own family, something I guess I took for granted till that day, but also because I knew that even if we did eventually get pregnant using IVF or whatever other types of fertility treatment, the whole experience of starting a family was not going be like I thought it would.
And that’s a hard thing to come to terms with.
When you think about getting pregnant you assume it will be easy, the most natural thing ever, right? And then that dream is taken away from you and instead, you are faced with a reality of blood tests, needles, hospital visits hormone treatments and even if you are a super strong and positive person, it is enough to knock anyone down and make them feel devastated.
Next came the anger – why me? why is it happening to me? I wanted so badly to blame someone but didn’t know who. I wanted to put the responsibility on anyone just to make sense of it all, but I kept coming back to the same conclusion – it’s no one’s fault, it just is what it is.
And then came the shame. I felt so embarrassed to tell people about what we were going through. Potentially not being able to have children somehow made me feel like less of a woman or something else that I couldn’t exactly put my finger on and I just didn’t want people to feel sorry for me so I told no one.
Eventually, with Mike’s encouragement, I talked to a family member who had also struggled to get pregnant and now had one daughter. It was comforting talking to someone who knew what I was going through, who was there too and who was able to relate to all the mixed emotions I was experiencing.
She suggested we get a second opinion.
I was so desperate to hear any “good news”, even the smallest thing, so Mike and I agreed we would go to see another specialist before we started IVF.
As we sat in the new specialist’s office, a room we grew to know very well over the next few years, we hoped for a miracle.
I will never forget his words.
He said, “you’re going to have a family”.
I burst into floods of tears, still not knowing what he actually meant but I just couldn’t hold back.
He explained that our case was not a clear-cut and that actually he would like to try a less invasive procedure called IUI before we go with IVF if we were willing to give it a try.
For those who are not familiar with what IUI is, it’s basically when they take the guy’s sperm, give it a little boost, taking out the not so great swimmers and then place the best ones inside the woman with what is essentially a turkey baster! I had to take hormones of course, but they gave me pills instead of injections and the side effects were not as bad as I was expecting.
The first cycle failed.
I felt defeated again. You get your hopes up, you do it all right and then nothing happens and you are back where you started questioning why this is happening to you, feeling like it’s so unfair, angry and helpless and like a complete failure even though your rational brain is telling you that this is not your fault.
But the specialist suggested we try again, increasing the hormones and staying optimistic.
On the day of the second procedure, as I lay on the bed, I spoke to my unborn child which I didn’t even know if I was ever going to have, and I ask her to give me a chance. I promised her I would work double as hard, do my absolute best, love her with all my heart and soul, and I waited.
It was all I could do.
A few weeks later I took a pregnancy test (okay that’s a lie, I took ten tests) and as I held the test in my hand looking at the ever so faint second line, I barely dared to dream what it might actually mean.
We went into our appointment the following day and they confirmed I was pregnant.
Nine months later we had our first miracle baby.
We’ve had two other children since then (three in total), with the second pregnancy being a twin pregnancy (third cycle of IUI).
I am so grateful, blessed and thankful for having our three little miracle babies. I am very aware of how fortunate we are and how for so many other couples the struggle still continues.
I have never written about this before because I’ve always felt like I have no right to share my story knowing that there are so many other men and women out there who are still going through this and I never in a million years want to gloat or be insensitive towards their pain.
Having said that I feel like talking about our struggles, even if we were “lucky” and are no longer experiencing them, is important and the reason I have decided to open up and tell you about my own experience is that I want you to know that it is not your fault, that there is nothing to feel ashamed of, and that you are not alone.
I know how deep your pain goes and I encourage you to share your stories and seek comfort in each other.
Sending love and hugs to you all x