Posted On: 27/01/2016
By: Louise Carman
There are some things in life you just take for granted;
- Being born Scouse (and therefore, innately better than the rest of the world).
- Your fella making you want to throttle him daily
- Wools insisting on wearing hideous shoes.
So, when I got married at 25 and decided to start trying for a baby, I just assumed that soon enough I’d be maxing out my credit card on designer baby clothes.
A year and a half later, I still wasn’t up the duff so we trotted off to the GP and were referred to the Infertility Clinic at the Women’s and so began The Worst Time Of My Life ™.
According to NHS statistics, 84% of couples will fall pregnant within 1 year of trying. What about the remaining 16% though? More than 1 in 10 women will access fertility services during their lifetime so here are a few things I wish I’d have known:
- You will become obsessed with your own body. Up until then, I’d never paid it much attention. Of course periods are a right pain in the backside but that was about as much thought as I’d given it. Suddenly, I was spending hours on end thinking about my cycle, hormones, cervical mucus (gross or what?) – even my body temperature. Whilst it’s always good to be in tune with your body, that level of scrutiny is just not healthy and only creates more stress.
- You will feel like you’re losing the plot. People who reckon pregnant women are a hormonal nightmare have never lived with a woman who’s struggling to get pregnant. Suddenly, having a baby was the be all and end all, I’d be roaring at my fella like a woman possessed one minute then sobbing in the loo at work the next.
- Everyone around you will seem to be popping out babies. While I was waiting for my referral to the Infertility Clinic, one of my good friends announced that she would be postponing her wedding, as she was pregnant. I was livid; I didn’t even congratulate her because I felt she’d done it to spite me (OK, with regard to number 2, maybe I actually did lose the plot just a touch). I got absolutely hammered at her baby shower and spent 7 months slagging her off to anybody who’d listen. When she had the baby, I sat weeping in the entrance to the Women’s for 20 minutes before I got my shit together and went in to see her.
- You’ll lose all dignity. Ever had a transvaginal scan? The machine they use resembles a large sex toy and you know exactly where it’s going and that’s just the start of it. Basically the whole staff of the Women’s are going to get a good look up your foof (I’m sure at one point the woman who works in the gift shop nipped in for a nosey). As usual, the men get off easy (pun intended); alls they have to do is whack one out into a plastic cup.
- This experience will never leave you. Whatever the outcome, whether you end up having a baby, adopting or simply moving on as a couple without children, I’ve spoken to people who have done all 3 and the scars will still be there. The only way I can describe it would be like losing your spouse…you can move on, meet somebody else or not, have a happy life but it’s never going to take away the pain of what happened.
In my case, our tests revealed that I suffered from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which is thought to be the leading cause of infertility in women. PCOS affects between 5 and 10% of women and causes a whole range of attractive symptoms including irregular periods (or absent periods), weight gain, acne, hirsutism and thinning hair. My hormone profile was very poor and we were told IVF stood a very slim chance of working. I didn’t want to go through the invasiveness of IVF only to come away from it without a baby so we decided to look in to adoption instead.
Nearly 6 years later, we now have 3 sons through adoption. I can honestly say that, although the adoption process is tough with Social Services grilling you on each and every aspect of your life from your childhood to your finances, it is the best thing I’ve ever done. Not only have I fulfilled my dream of being a mum, I’ve made a difference in my boys’ lives, made lifelong friends and grown so much as a person.
If you’re going through a similar experience, there is lots of support available online. I know I found it immensely helpful to know that I wasn’t the only one. Both Fertility Friend and Verity (PCOS specific) were invaluable. There is also an excellent trilogy of novels by Sinéad Moriarty (The Baby Trail, The Perfect Match and From Here to Maternity), which are very lighthearted, but true to life. Just don’t blame me if they have you weeping on the bus to work!
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