Our fertility journey
Fertility, pregnancy

Our fertility journey so far

I wrote a blog post last year called ‘Six Things That Happen When You’re Trying for a Baby’. We had been trying for a little over 6 months at that stage, and I’d suddenly gone from ‘It’ll happen when it happens’ to ‘I really hope this happens soon’. I was annoyed with myself for getting so obsessed with trying for a baby, and thought it would do me good to laugh at myself a little. Fast forward a year: we’re still trying for a baby, and I’m starting to lose my sense of humour about it. Here’s what’s been happening:

There’s the tests:

My husband and I had some initial tests done, and the results of both were ‘normal’, which was good news. There’s nothing further to look at for him, so the rest is all on me! I’ve had another two blood tests, a chlamydia and gonorrhoea swab, and a camera up my hoo-ha to have my ovaries and uterus assessed. So far all fine, except possible ‘mild’ polycystic ovary syndrome. The fertility nurse didn’t seem too concerned about it, but it’s not a good thing!

The alternative therapies:

I’d heard that acupuncture could have a positive effect on fertility, and have a couple of friends who got pregnant after trying it, so I wanted to give it a go. I signed up for weekly sessions at £45 a pop for 8 weeks. The practitioner was wonderful, and doing something proactive made me feel like I was gaining back an element of control. It was also nice to have a weekly chat with someone about how I was feeling and, while it obviously didn’t result in pregnancy, it did help me to let go of tension and sleep better. My acupuncturist left the clinic in July and so I decided to take a break to reassess. Now I’m looking at giving herbal medicine a go, so I’ll update you on that when it happens!

The peeing on sticks:

I have peed on more pregnancy tests over the last year than I care to admit… I often test a day or two before my period is due because I just have to know! I also spent a couple of cycles doing home ovulation testing (more peeing on sticks) to make sure that it was happening as it should, and that we had our timings right (it was and we did). At one point, I was peeing on tests so often that I got the vague feeling of forgetting something every time I went for a wee without a stick in my hand!

The endless googling:

‘How do you know if spotting is implantation bleeding’

‘Best alternative remedies for infertility’

‘Are you more likely to get pregnant if you lie still after sex’

‘Is cystitis an early sign of pregnancy?’ (no, but it turns out it’s a common side effect of the previous question)

‘What causes secondary infertility?’

and so on, and so on.

The lifestyle changes:

We’re both taking daily vitamins and have cut way back on alcohol and caffeine. I am reducing stress as much as possible, and have even changed my job around to work fewer days and from home. I’m doing Pilates and Body Balance classes, and even stay for the meditation sessions at the end! I’m trying to stay fit by running, but not too much, because apparently that’s bad too!!! I’m eating healthy nutritious food and drinking herbal tea… Trying to get pregnant can be really dull!

The frustration:

It seems crazy to me that the field of fertility still contains so many unknowns. I keep waiting for a test or an appointment to lead to an ‘a-ha’ moment, where we suddenly find out what the issue is, and what we can do about it. But everything is mostly ‘fine’ and ‘normal’ so far, which I know is a good thing, but I’m still not pregnant so there must be something that’s not right! This is particularly frustrating because it’s happening second time around and so we just hadn’t anticipated it at all. I know I’m 5 years older than I was last time, but back then I got pregnant by accident while I was on the bloody pill, so I had (wrongly) assumed that this must mean I’m super fertile!

The crying:

Every month, at the end of my period, I look ahead to the coming cycle and decide that, from now on, I’m not going to be a crazy obsessed person. That it’ll happen when it happens and there’s no point getting upset about it every month. But then, sure enough, when my period rolls around, and I realise that we have failed, yet again, to make a baby, I’m devastated all over again. It’s exhausting.

The guilt:

My son really really wants a baby brother. He asks all the time. I tell him that we’re working on it but we might need to wait a while, and that for now, we should enjoy being a little gang of three. I feel terrible that I can’t give him a sibling, and that even if it does happen eventually, the age gap is getting wider and wider all the time. I also feel guilt over the amount of time I’ve spent fretting about getting pregnant again when I have a child already. I feel like I’m wishing away time every month either waiting for ovulation or waiting for my period.

So what’s next:

Next is a fallopian tube test, which I’m not looking forward to! They’re going to pump goo through my fallopian tubes via a catheter in my cervix. Sounds pretty grim… it also seems like a box-ticking exercise as it’s unlikely I have a blockage because I already have a child.

And after that, who knows? I don’t know if there are any further tests they can do or what they might recommend. We know that we are not allowed IVF on the NHS in our area because I’m too old (I’m 36), and I already have a child. So, will we do it privately? I don’t know yet. I guess we’ll see what the fertility clinic thinks of our chances of success.

There are other alternative therapies to explore and further dietary and lifestyle changes to consider. There seems to be so much guesswork involved and so much research to do as the fertility clinic haven’t offered us any advice beyond taking the tests. I’m pretty sure that there are dietary changes I can make to mitigate the mild polycystic ovaries, for example, but the nurse didn’t have any suggestions on that score.

The other scenario is that we may need to come to terms with the fact that this might not happen for us. It breaks my heart to say it, but it seems to be a distinct possibility. Whatever happens, I’m working on remembering that we really are blessed with the small family we already have.

Fitness

Babies: the ultimate weight loss tool

Now that I have a toddler, I look back with fondness at the baby days for many different reasons, but today, as I sadly admitted defeat when the button of my favourite pair of jeans stubbornly refused to fasten, I am thinking particularly of those heady first few months when, against everything I believed before having a baby, I was actually losing weight and looking good!

If you don’t believe this is possible, here are just some of the reasons why the first few months with a baby can actually help you to shed some pounds without any effort on your part. And you still get to eat biscuits.

  • Your baby will only fall asleep if you have them tied to your chest in a sling and you bounce, jiggle or, in the case of my bundle of joy, perform deep squats on repeat (a serious workout for the glutes).
  • They always choose the worst time to fall asleep without the aforementioned jiggling, like in your arms just as the sandwich you have prepared is just out of reach, leaving you to stare longingly at it while they have the longest nap they’ve had to date.
  • Despite looking forward to wine for 9 months, when the baby is born, you realise that you still can’t drink any because you now have a tiny person attached to your boob 24/7 and so the binge session has to wait a bit longer.
  • You walk round and round and round and round your local park/estate/block to get the baby to sleep and then to keep them asleep.
  • They will keep you awake half the night until you feel sick from exhaustion and couldn’t possibly put any food in your mouth. Besides, you have no energy left to chew.
  • Breastfeeding. Obviously. I developed my terrible biscuit addiction during the early days of breastfeeding when all of the calories I consumed disappeared straight out of my boobs, but unfortunately haven’t been able to stop eating them since.
  • You meet the best mum mates at postnatal fitness classes. There’s no way to sit in the corner and pretend to be invisible or quietly skulk in and out. Plus a workout gets the endorphins going, so everyone is in a great and receptive mood at the end of the class. You also have the time to go to these classes because you can take your baby along too. No-one wants a roomful of toddlers in an exercise class.
  • The endless stream of visitors will eat all of your biscuits. Bastards. Do none of them read those helpful articles on what you should bring a new mum? You bring food, you bring tea, you look after the baby while mum sleeps, and you leave. The end. None of my visitors had consulted the manual before arriving biscuit-less, hungry and with no intention of taking over the endless rocking/squatting or passing me my sandwich.

Any more to add to the list?

Exercise bike with baby
Me and Beanie on an exercise bike. Natch.