One last shot at conceiving without IVF
Over recent months I’ve retreated into a bit of a bubble. I say bubble, it’s probably more just I’ve stepped back from social media and my constant striving in all areas of my life. This shift in gear was entirely necessary and such a positive move for me. One thing I’ve missed though has been connecting with like-minded people online. I love to write about my experiences and in the past have done so with a focus on self-development (or whatever you want to call it, I never know the best word to use!)
The writing of my experiences hasn’t stopped over recent months, in fact it’s cranked up a notch. I have two full journals starting from January 2019 and over the Christmas break just gone I’ve re-read it all and done lots of reflecting. It now feels a good time to share the rollercoaster ride that’s been our fertility journey and all the things I’ve learnt along the way, so this post marks the first in a series. Not only I am going to find it a very satisfying process to really embed those things I’ve learnt but it’s also an opportunity to hopefully provide a little comfort to anyone else who’s in the midst of fertility treatment. If that’s you or if you want to make sure you don’t miss a post sign-up here to receive them into your inbox.
This isn’t going to be a series of blog posts about how to get pregnant or even about how to cope with fertility treatment. It’s simply my experience. For me, the three years of trying to conceive wasn’t just about the yearning for our baby, it was about my entire life. It impacted everything, especially my sense of identity and my career and I’ll be sharing my feelings on all of that. I’ll also share some things that have really helped my mindset along the way in the shape of podcasts, books and therapies. A running theme to all my blogs and ‘side hustle’ efforts over the years is that mindset is key, and I believe this more now than ever.
So, where to begin? October 2018 was quite a pivotal time as we were still clinging to the idea that conception without the need to have IVF could be a possibility. At this time IVF seemed so extreme and I wanted to try all other options first, so that is where I will begin our story.
In a nutshell, what came before October 2018 was failed attempts to conceive naturally and no real answers as to why this could be from our initial tests on the NHS. I had a feeling there was something being missed so we paid to go to a private consultant. It turned out there may be a reason after all and that was a relief. Endometriosis. Who knew you could have that without the excruciating, heavy periods that are more commonly associated with it? I certainly didn’t. So, in September 2018 I had a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy to remove the cysts and lesions. I had two weeks off work to recover which in all honesty was lovely! It’s so rare that I give myself permission to chill out. I also felt brand new in the sense it was a nice feeling that everything inside had undergone a spring clean so surely this made the chance of little swimmers getting through much higher? I felt filled with hope that we had a good shot and looked forward to giving it a go. Ever the optimist!
In hindsight I really wish I’d continued that delightful chilled out vibe of looking after myself and getting lots of rest. Unfortunately, I didn’t, and my mental health really suffered for it. I jumped head first into October with lots of commitments with my bridal coaching. My timing was a little off, but the issue was that I was so intensely eager not to let my life and career be put on hold as we went through our fertility journey. This is a theme I’ll come back to in future posts as it is a thread running through the whole experience.
At the end of October, we went on holiday to Dubai. Boy did I need that break. The only trouble was that I was running on empty, I don’t even know where my head was at but throughout the holiday it all unravelled. I had spent the month working my full-time job and doing lots with my bridal coaching and the fertility side of things had been squashed down somewhere deep along with any sort of care I had for my mental state and wellbeing.
I woke up one night in Dubai crying with a terrible sense of doom. What if I never have a child? That morning Steve went for a run and I got it all out on paper. Annoyingly I’d left my journal at home, so the little squares of hotel note paper had to suffice! It was a relief to get out all the feelings that I’d been ‘doing so well’ to suppress. I felt quite anxious on and off that holiday.
I would say that October 2018 was the lowest point to date since we started trying to conceive. I worry what would have happened if I’d just kept going and not had that break to let everything unravel in my mind. It was tough but it had to happen. The lesson here I suppose is that whatever we have going on in life that’s a source of pain, it can’t stay hidden in the depths of our soul forever. In one way or another it will come out. Did I learn this lesson though? Nope. Busying myself and being ‘productive’ were my go-to ‘coping’ mechanisms which I really did kid myself were keeping me on the straight and narrow, even after my Dubai meltdown.
I took a slightly easier approach to the rest of 2018, but it was all about to ramp up a notch come early 2019 and that period was, by far, the most painful to re-read in my journals. Struggling to conceive is not just about the sadness of not getting pregnant each month. It’s complex and can really be all-consuming but as crazy as it sounds, I’m grateful to have learnt all the lessons along the way, mainly about myself. I agree with what Gabby Bernstein says – I had to learn to mother myself before becoming a mother.
I ended 2018 in the knowledge that ‘the spring clean’ of my lady organs hadn’t resulted in pregnancy. Like so many other people struggling to conceive there was that feeling at Christmas of not knowing what was to come and the sadness and fear that it may never happen. I had a cry on Christmas morning and wondered what the year ahead would bring. If only I had a crystal ball to know that the following Christmas would be very different indeed but that’s the hardest part about all this, it’s all so unknown.