My journey started back in 2007 where following a brief relationship I found myself unexpectedly pregnant at 23.
I’d not long bought a flat and I didn’t feel in the right place to have a child. It wasn’t the right time for me, so I made the decision to have a termination. It wasn’t an easy choice and on the day made a million times harder as a very good friend of mine was on the same ward as me, with his wife having a miscarriage. The guilt I felt was awful but I knew I’d made the right choice, I never regretted the choice I’d made until 10 years later.
In 2010 I met my (now) husband, we knew we wanted to be together but were in no rush to move quickly. So in 2017 when we got married we decided to start trying for a baby, I was now 32 and had no doubt that I’d easily fall pregnant again like I had done 10 years previous. It’s drilled into you as a teenager that it’s so easy to get pregnant, one missed pill, one split condom and that’s all it would take. It turns out for many couples, that is not the case. My periods have always been light, regular but only lasted 1 to 2 days so once we started trying I assumed that might be a problem but everything I’d read online said, as long as periods are regular ovulation should be too.
We took trying to conceive very seriously, we had a holiday booked to Goa and changed it due to the malaria risk, I stopped smoking, went on a diet, stopped drinking, took all the vitamins. I wanted to give myself the best chance possible, we downloaded the tracking app and made sure we got our timings right.
After 12 months there was still nothing, we decided it was time to go to the doctor to get checked over. The doctor referred us to the local hospital for some tests, we were really surprised how quickly the appointment came through and there started the beginning of the prodding and poking, it’s amazing how quickly you get over the embarrassment of a male doctor seeing your bits. The first round of tests came back after a couple of weeks and they showed my husbands sperm was fine (that was the extent of his tests over the whole period, one sperm sample), most of my tests came back within normal range although they did show a slightly low egg count and some cysts on my ovaries. Its an emotional rollercoaster of wanting everything to be ok but also wanting them to find a treatable cause for the infertility. With the hospital finding nothing specific wrong they advised we carried on as we were for another 12 months. According to the leaflet they gave us 94% of couples our age get pregnant within 24 cycles.
In June 2018 I found out I was pregnant, for someone with a bad memory I remember every moment of the day. We were so excited, everyone knew we’d been trying for a while so we didn’t hesitate to tell people. Our friends and families were so excited for us, we all planned the future, holidays, christmases, names, hobbies. All the things you get carried away with when you’ve wanted something for so long. At about 9 weeks my symptoms stopped, no more nausea or sore boobs, I panicked and called my midwife who explained that sometimes people don’t have any symptoms and they just don’t talk about it because they don’t want to appear smug but I knew something wasn’t right. There was no bleeding but I knew deep down I’d lost the baby. I’d watched ‘This Morning’ a couple of weeks earlier where Chris and Rosie Ramsey had been talking about a missed miscarriage, I didn’t even know it was something that could happen prior to that but I instantly knew that’s what had happened. We had to wait a couple more weeks before we got to have a scan, I knew as soon as they struggled to find a heartbeat that my worst thoughts had come true. I even told the Doctor doing the scan that it was ok, I already knew, he didn’t have to tell me. The baby had stopped growing at 4 weeks, they sent us away and asked us to come back 10 days later to see if we’d got our dates wrong. Like anyone struggling to conceive ever gets their dates wrong.
I’ll never forget that morning at the Early Pregnancy Unit, it’s where everyone goes for scans so a range of pregnant ladies sat around us. There was one young couple, they were dropped off by the boys dad and left to go into the scan, they came out and were sobbing and holding each other. My heart broke for them, I wished in that moment that there was a separate place for people like us. So that we didn’t have to sit amongst the happy couples and babies.
We left the hospital that morning and went to parkrun, I guess we were just on autopilot. We had hugs and support from friends, our friends 16 year old son stayed with me whilst the others ran. We carried on with our plans that morning and went to visit some friends, they were back at their parents and his mum used to be a midwife. She made sweet tea and said all the right things. In hindsight we probably should have just gone home after the hospital but we were both a bit numb, it also meant we could put off telling everyone as once we did that it was real.
10 days later we went back and got the news we’d expected, the baby hadn’t grown any further but I also hadn’t miscarried. My body thought it was still pregnant. What came next I didn’t expect, the nurse gave me the first of two lots of tablets, she was very nice to us and said kind things. One thing that always stuck with me was one said “this is your one lot of bad luck, everything will be fine after this”, that gave me a lot of hope in that moment. A few days later I had an appointment to go back in for the second set of tablets, it took a week for me to miscarry fully, at times the pain was crippling (luckily it only lasted a couple of hours and they gave me pretty strong pain killers) and I just felt awful that it was dragging on so long. I just wanted it over. My head started to play tricks on me, was this the worlds way of punishing me for the termination I had? Would that original pregnancy have gone full term? How do I even know that would have been viable? It took time to accept that the two events aren’t connected, I wasn’t being punished, I was allowed to make that choice back then, the world wasn’t against me it was just bad luck.
After the miscarriage it took a few months for us to decide to start trying again. My body wasn’t ready both physically and mentally, I needed some time to focus on myself. It was actually quite nice just being the two of us and not being ruled by a calendar. Once we decided to start trying again another 12 months flew by, a blur of ovulation kits, temperature checks, reflexology, and multiple negative pregnancy tests. We then got referred back to the hospital, they ran all the same tests a second time and a couple of new ones to check my tubes weren’t blocked. Everything came back normal except my egg count, which had dropped even further since the first test almost 2 years earlier, it was dropping quicker than they’d expect.
We were told that it probably wouldn’t happen for us naturally, IVF would be our only option. As my egg count level fell quite a bit below a certain threshold we were not eligible for NHS IVF, looking at the success rates of IVF with couples that had similar numbers to mine, the live birth rate was around 10%. I’m a numbers person and to me, that meant we had to go through 10 rounds of IVF for it to potentially be successful, we had already discussed it and that wasn’t the route we wanted to go down. I did have a cry in the car when we left the hospital, told my husband that I’d understand if he wanted to leave and cried some more when he told me to stop being stupid. Time has allowed us to grieve and move on, recently I packaged up all the ovulation kits, pregnancy tests and vitamins for a friend. This felt like the right closure that we needed to move on to the next stage.
Our next stage is going to be adoption... Let’s see what adventure that brings.