I thought it would be so easy.
When my husband and I decided to start trying for our first child, I thought it would happen straight away. Maybe not the first time, but I'd been reading pregnancy-related books and websites (to prepare myself for the inevitable) and heard that most couples manage to conceive within the first six months of trying.
We were both fit, healthy, non-smokers, with no medical issues and the ideal weight for our respective heights - the perfect candidates on paper. So it was bound to happen quickly and easily, right?
Wrong. It's now more than three years later...and we still have no baby to show for our efforts.
Our Infertility Story
This isn't going to be one of those 'All I ever wanted was to be a mother' type posts. I've never been the maternal type and always said I didn't want kids. While other women would swoon over newborn babies and make soppy goo-goo noises, I'd always stand slightly back, politely mumbling "Aww, he's so cute" while secretly hoping they wouldn't try to make me hold their little bundle of joy. (Why do women insist on making everyone hold their baby, btw? It only starts screaming in the unsuspecting victim's face the second it leaves its mother's arms.)
But then something happened: I hit The Big 3-0. That wonderful biological clock that all females seem to have started ticking away inside me. I began to wonder whether I really never want to have children, or if I just felt like I wasn't ready for them right now. I knew that if I wanted kids to be a part of my future, I'd have to start trying now - otherwise I might miss my chance and end up regretting it.
My husband, meanwhile, is so laid back he's almost horizontal. While he always saw himself having a couple of kids, he was happy just to go with the flow and let me decide when the time was right (which was quite a risky game in my opinion, as I might never have decided that).
We were both 31 when we started trying to conceive. I think our age was the only thing going against us - after all, we weren't 21 anymore, but plenty of couples have babies in their thirties and even into their forties. It's becoming the norm nowadays.
I remember getting my period after that first month of trying. I felt quite amused, to be honest. All those years I'd been using contraception and trying not to fall pregnant - it felt so weird that you could have unprotected sex with no consequences. But then a few more months passed with nothing happening, and I started to get confused. This was weird. Then six months passed, the time it takes for most people to conceive. The confusion turned to worry. There must be something wrong with me! There must be something wrong with him! What if there's something wrong with BOTH OF US?
After a year we decided to visit the GP. We were sent for a series of blood tests, scans (me), semen analyses (him) and a hysteroscopy (me again - and ouch!) over the next few months - all of which came back negative. There was nothing wrong with either of us. The doctors seemed to think this was good news. "There's nothing stopping you from getting pregnant!" they told me. When I asked them to explain why, in that case, I hadn't got pregnant, they were at a loss. It was just put down to 'unexplained infertility' - possibly the most frustrating kind of infertility, I think, because there's no problem to solve. I was hoping they'd say, "This is the issue and here's how we're going to fix it" but nope, just a "Sorry, we got nothing for ya".
Meanwhile, our friends were busy having their second and third (and in one case, sixth) children and people were beginning to ask us when we were planning to start a family. I don't mind discussing it with my friends and close family but these people were often just casual acquaintances and sometimes downright strangers. Let me tell you, when you're struggling with infertility the last thing you need is nosy busybodies sticking their oar in and questioning you on your sex life.
Eventually, after two and a half years of trying unsuccessfully and my becoming a little hysterical, a doctor decided to refer us for IVF. She said that as I'm in good health with no medical problems, and because of my age (now 34) I was a good candidate. In theory there would be nothing stopping the procedure from working. I was referred to Bart's Hospital in London.
Unfortunately though, while we were in the process of being referred, the funding for IVF on the NHS was cut from three cycles down to just one. That means if the first cycle fails then we'll have to pay for any further treatment. I'm so grateful to have the NHS and the opportunity to have IVF for free even once, but I do feel like a safety net has been taken away from me when a few weeks earlier I would've been able to have three tries - if nothing else, it would definitely have meant a little less pressure on me to make it work the first time.
That's the gist of my infertility struggles so far. We are starting IVF so our story is still ongoing, but now we have hope for the future. I turn 35 in June and if our one free IVF procedure doesn't work, we'll probably pay for another round or two, but after that I'll probably just accept that it was never meant to be. I'll keep you all updated in a future post dedicated to my IVF story.
Have you ever dealt with infertility?