First blog post

My name is Charlotte. I am 29 years old and I have infertility (tubal factor). Me and my partner started trying for a baby over two years ago and I have dreamed of becoming a mother my whole life.

“I already think of myself as a parent. It’s just that my children are in a special place in my heart and not yet in my arms.”

I have decided to start writing a blog about my journey for three reasons…

  1. There is not a great deal of support and public acceptance out there for people going through infertility. Whilst we are lucky to have some support and government funding for some treatments in this Country. It is still a very misunderstood (and somewhat taboo) disease/subject by the general population, even though 1 in 8 couples experience infertility. So I am hoping to raise awareness and acceptance by educating others and sharing my own story.
  2. Talking about it helps me feel better. Writing about it is even better than talking about it in person because I can word it properly, without trying not to cry in front of someone and hold it together.
  3. If you are going through infertility yourself and reading this. You are NOT alone. In this blog I will be very honest and open about my journey and the emotional impact it has on my life. So there is no need for you to feel like the only crazy person out there, even if you are not ready to share your story/feelings with the world.

I only have two rules;

  1. Please don’t judge me (or anyone for that matter), unless you have walked a day in my shoes.
  2. Please be kind, this is a blog for support and support will always be given here to those who need it.

And Finally… thank you to those of you who have been a big support in my journey because it really helps me to pick myself up on the bad days and NOT GIVE UP!hope-nonprofit-website-flower

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The importance of putting yourself first.

This will be valuable for all women to read, no matter which stage of life you are at or what you are going through. However, if you are going through a challenging journey/event such as infertility, loss/grief, illness (mental/physical) or any other major life crisis or life change this will be especially important for you to read.

If you are reading this, I hope it will empower you to become the best version of yourself and who knows you may even start a movement of your own and inspire other women to do the same for themselves and others around them!

As we all know most women are expected to do so much for other people, now more than ever. For example; Raise a family, be a stay at home mum, do everything you possibly can to ensure your children grow up well, be the perfect wife/partner, have a clean house, be an awesome friend, have a successful career, have a healthy dinner ready, wash clothes, look nice … etc. The list may vary for each of us but the point I’m trying to make, is that whether it’s a friend, your kids, your partner/husband or your Boss, many women do a lot for other people. It’s also not uncommon for women to forget about themselves, in an effort to be/appear to be the ‘perfect’, ‘strong’ and ‘supportive’ women/wife/mother/friend.

I don’t know about you but I always value my friendships; I like being respectful and kind towards those that I care about. I believe in treating someone the way I expect to be treated. Even when someone upsets me by saying the wrong thing, behaving inappropriately or being insensitive to my feelings/situation, I always try my best to empathize and forgive them. Often, they may have insecurities/issues of their own and feel the need to take it out on someone or perhaps they don’t have the tools/knowledge/strength to handle their situation properly. Sure, there have been times when I have been insensitive to someone who has upset me, usually because I was still holding on to anger/frustration about how they treated me. Does it make me feel better? Yes, temporarily… In the long run? No, not really.

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If I have learned anything in my eventful life, it is the importance of forgiveness. More specifically forgiving myself. Even more specifically, forgiving myself from a place of love and acceptance.

It doesn’t matter how much I say, ‘I don’t care what people think of me’, it still won’t make it my truth. Of course, I care what people think of me, especially my friends. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be capable of valuing my friendships as much as I do. It’s ok to care what people think, however this can also become a problem. Let me explain…

There have been times when I valued a friendship and cared so much about what a friend thinks of me… that I put up with their lack of respect time and time again. I put my own feelings at risk, out of fear of what they may think or fear of losing a friendship. Often when I knew deep down, that they would never do the same for me if I treated them the way they had treated me. Some people would say that I am a true friend, brave or strong for being the better person. However, it is more complicated and yet more simple than that. Here’s why…

The truth is, when I put someone else first, regardless of how difficult or upsetting it is for me, I am only harming myself. Over time this creates scars, and bitterness. Which will eventually make it harder to be a good friend and will risk the friendship anyway. Which ultimately goes against my truth and what I believe a good friend should be.

Here’s a personal story to give you an idea where I am coming from. You may/may not be able to relate to this story but hopeful it will help you understand what I mean from my personal point of experience:

I had a friend who was pregnant (not planned) and was clearly going through insecurities of her own… One minute she was tip-toeing around me (perhaps because she felt guilty or nervous about how I might feel about her accidental pregnancy due to the fact I was infertile and desperately wanting a baby)… The next minute she was rubbing it in my face, accusing me of being jealous/upset about it and then avoided me after I expressed my feelings and offered support to her anyway. I continued to offer my support and tried to go above and beyond for her and for the sake of the friendship, even though it was extremely painful/emotional for me at times (not because she was pregnant but because I wasn’t and because of how she had behaved). I put my feelings aside as best as I could for her sake (I guess I was now the one doing the tip-toeing!). Partly because I didn’t want to upset her, partly because I was afraid of what she might think of me and partly because I didn’t want to lose a friend. Eventually I would go home, break down, have a good cry and let it all out. After doing this a couple of times, I started to realize I was finding it increasingly difficult to put on a brave face and say nice things when I was with her because of the things she had said to me. I started to resent her for the way she had treated me and questioned the value of the friendship.

The thing is… none of this was her fault. I knew deep down that she was going through issues of her own and I also believe she didn’t have the knowledge or courage to best deal with or talk about these issues. She used my infertility as an excuse when I confronted her or talked about it. This made me feel that it was my fault why I was upset and it was my fault that I was infertile. Which, I know was completely irrational because I doubt it was her intention to make me feel this way and it certainly wasn’t my fault I was infertile and upset. In fact, she probably didn’t have a clue how I truly felt because I had done my best to disguise it at times and put her and her feelings before my own. In the end, I was the one who suffered and it also put a strain on the friendship. I continually put myself in a difficult situation for the sake of someone else, which on more than one occasion reduced me to tears afterwards. I failed to put myself first, which ultimately made it difficult and challenging to continue to support her, be a good friend and value the friendship.

The moral of the story is: Put yourself first, look after your own heart and feelings first and you will become the best possible version of you. When you are the best version of you, you will also be the best friend/mother/wife/woman you can be and it will come from a place of love.

a662747da29e885c15ab93dd08473ffc--struggling-with-faith-quiet-time-with-godIf you love, accept and forgive yourself… it will be easy and effortless to love, except and forgive others.

 

 

 

If you look after and protect yourself and your feelings, people will respect you for it. If they don’t that’s OK and it’s their choice… They may not be the right friend for you and that’s OK too. Instead, perhaps be open to the exciting opportunity of leaving the door open and attracting new people into your life, who ARE aligned with your values and beliefs and do respect you and your feelings.a4148112473_10

It’s OK to say NO sometimes because when you say NO to protect yourself or your feelings… You are actually saying YES to YOU!!!

 

 

So do yourself a favor and from now on… SAY YES TO YOU and become the best version of yourself. It’s better than OK… It is remarkable, inspiring, impressive, extraordinary and exciting!

Freedom

Latest update on my Journey to become a mother… (Tubal factor)

A week ago, I had the surgery to remove my blocked and damaged left Fallopian tube.

By the way, if you haven’t read about the first 2 years or so of my infertility story, you can read it here first: https://dreamingofbabies.wordpress.com/2017/02/27/my-journey-so-far/

This is the second surgery I’ve had, since I was diagnosed with tubal factor infertility. The first was almost exactly a year ago (weirdly enough) and successfully repaired and unblocked both my Fallopian tubes. However, approximately 6 months after the surgery we discovered after having further tests and procedures, that the left tube was blocked again.

The specialist told us our best hope of success would be IVF and to further increase our chance of success I should consider having my blocked tube removed. The reason for this is, if there is fluid in the tube there is a potential risk of it poisoning my womb and could hinder a healthy embryo from attaching itself and/or surviving in a possibly hostile ‘environment’. So therefore, removing the tube would reduce the risk of having an ectopic pregnancy, failed implantation or miscarriage when we do our IVF.

The surgery I had last year was a tough and painful recovery. I have reactions/allergies to various drugs, including Anesthetic drugs. After the surgery last year, I had a bad reaction to the anesthetic which made me violently sick, depleted all my energy and fluids as well as causing distress and further pain to my abdomen area which had just been operated on. I believe this is what made the recovery so much harder, longer and more painful last time.

As you can probably understand, I was quite nervous for this surgery, given what I have been through after previous surgeries. Last time they gave me a ‘special’ type of general anesthetic as well as anti-sickness drugs during and after the surgery, which still made no difference. So, I was mentally preparing myself for the same reaction again this time.

I explained my concern to the anesthetist and he said he was determined to do everything in his power this time to prevent a reaction. He told me after the surgery he had given me the maximum dose possible of anti-sickness as well as the most advanced and specialized anesthetic treatment available.

Well, I am pleased to say that whatever he did worked… I was not sick afterwards, happy days!! However, I did still have a reaction, which did give me and the nurses a bit of a worry. About an hour or so after I came out of recovery and into my hospital room, my heart rate started racing. It literally felt as though it was about to beat right out of my chest. It was rather a frightening moment and I have never experienced anything like it before. The nurse wasted no time in hooking me up to an ECG machine to check what was going on with my heart. She said, ‘oh your heart rate is indeed very high!’ She decided to monitor me closely, put me on a drip, put a cold flannel over my face and turned the air-con down (so low that everyone who entered the room basically needed a hat, scarf and gloves, even though I was still burning hot! lol). Thankfully after about an hour my heart rate began to gradually stabilize and return to normal. I ate some yummy sandwiches (after last year’s surgery I couldn’t eat anything and lost my appetite for days). I got up and walked to the toilet for a pee on my own a few times within hours afterwards (last year’s surgery going for a pee was a very painful mission for days afterwards and I won’t even mention the ordeal of attempting a number 2… lol but not actually funny).

I was very fortunate and grateful to have a few lovely and supportive friends come and sit with me through-out the day (because my partner couldn’t take the day off work). This meant so much and helped me stay strong/positive, as well as took my mind of my nerves/pain etc.

My surgery was at 10am and by 7pm the same day I walked out of the hospital myself, sore and bruised, with my lovely man by my side and he drove me home to my own bed. (Last year he wheeled me out in a wheelchair and realized when we got home I probably should’ve stayed in hospital longer.)

I would be lying if I say it hasn’t been painful, but I am good at handling pain with minimum pain relief (because I’m limited on what I can take due to adverse reactions). Now, almost a week on and I am getting stronger every day. I become more mobile and gain more energy and less pain each day. I even managed to drive myself 10 mins down the road today (day 6 of recovery) to buy some waterproof dressings. So that I could soak and relax in my spa with a face mask on and a soothing mug of herbal tea, whilst soaking up the start of the spring sunshine and breathing in the fresh air.

The future is looking bright, I feel empowered and extremely proud of myself and I look forward to the next step in my journey… Bring it on!!

 

Warning… photos below contain images of bruising, dressings, and IV line. Just in case you are sensitive to medical/mildly graphic photos.

 

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This stage of life is hard (parenting) blog … The ‘I’m-not-a-parent’ inspirational version.

baby-frustratedNow before I start, I know you… ((parents who are apparently supposed to be in your early-mid thirties (even though we all know its possible for some people to conceive between age 16 and 45 give or take a couple, so I still don’t understand why there is this ageist stigma towards fertility in our society) with 2, 3 or possibly even 4 kids (because its also not acceptable in society to have just one) under 8 by now, and you’ve had no sleep or shower in days and feel like you are constantly picking up toys and saying or hearing the word ‘NO!’ on repeat and the name ‘Mum’ is your only identity, which you also happen to share with millions of other women so in other words, you basically feel like you don’t even have your own identity anymore, oh and did I mention the sleepless nights)) … are probably thinking, ‘oh here we go yet another moan from someone who has infertility’. Well, you are right this is that, except please hear me out… because I do still empathize with you.

In fact, I can (or at least, I try to) empathize with women in all ages and stages of life. Well and men for that matter, which I admit is harder, seeing as I don’t have a penis but I still try (not to have a penis, but to empathize), because let’s face it there are challenges throughout all stages of life. It’s also possible however, to replace the word ‘challenge’ with ‘OPPORTUNITY’… I will explain more later.

Recently I read yet another, ‘poor me, parenting is so hard’ blog (believe me there are a lot of these types of blogs on the world-wide web and it is no secret that parenting is hard).

Now I know it is probably not a good thing for me to read these blogs, given the fact that I would literally cut off my own legs to be a parent myself.  However, in many ways reading these types of blogs can also help me… They help me realize;

  • Life always appears ‘greener’ on the other side but it’s not always necessarily that simple.
  • There are many different types of ‘struggle’ and just because mine seems much worse, it won’t make someone’s seemingly lesser struggles feel any easier for them. Their feelings and struggles are just as valid as anyone’s, no matter how far apart they are from my own.
  • It realistically prepares me (as much as anyone can be prepared beforehand) for what parenthood may or may not be like, when I get the chance to join the club (hopefully).
  • It also helps me understand the importance of being open and talking about things so that you can find support from others who are going through a similar stage in life as you. So that you can also feel less alone and perhaps more ‘normal’.
  • The more mother’s out there who are realistic and open about their own struggles could potentially save the life of a mother suffering from PND, by setting an example and therefore encouraging them to talk to someone and get help. In fact this point could apply to anyone suffering from a mental illness.

So, in consideration of the above (and for a bit of lighthearted reading with a hint of seriousness and a dash of humor), I thought I would share with you my infertility version of ‘the parenting stage of life is hard’.

  1. In this stage of life, you are dealing with exhaustion. Mental, physical, and emotional. Oh, and don’t forget the exhaustion from the many sleepless nights.

Yep the same is true for someone going through infertility. If that is you, then you can expect the following;                                                                                                                Mental exhaustion from constantly wondering ‘when will it be my turn’ and then as each month/year goes by realizing its still ‘not my turn yet’… oh wait a minute, didn’t I previously write a three-page blog about the mental exhaustion of infertility, silly me. Physical exhaustion from working so hard in your career attempting to ‘distract’ yourself from the mental exhaustion caused by infertility. This also applies to the fact that you may be working like crazy to save as much money as you can for various and usually expensive treatments/therapies/tests/specialist appointments/drugs/IVF/health supplements/herbs/sperm friendly lube/pregnancy tests/ovulation tests/organic food etc. Emotional exhaustion – most people would probably not believe how emotionally exhausting infertility is and many certainly don’t understand, so I won’t even bother trying to explain it. Plus, if you are infertile and reading this then you more than likely don’t need an explanation anyway.

  1. In this stage of life, you are dealing with ear infections, teething, nap schedules’, feeding schedules’, tantrums, feeling more like a personal chauffeur than a Mum and juggling a million balls many of which you feel you are dropping.

In this stage of infertility life, you may be dealing with; tests, more needles than a crack addict might use during their entire addiction, awkward conversations with specialists regarding your private parts, sex life and when you should be ‘doing it’, surgeries, physical pain from surgeries and procedures, trying to juggle your life and work around the countless appointments and procedures, many of which you should probably take time off work to recover from but if you did this every time you may as well just fire your own ass, to save your boss the hassle. Don’t even get me started on massaging balls (Opps I meant to write ‘juggling balls’… stupid auto correct, apologies about that.)

  1. In this stage of life, you are dealing with guilt. Guilt of having a career, and not spending enough time with your kids, staying home with your kids, and not doing enough to contribute financially, being too harsh or too lenient with your kids etc.

During infertility, you can expect to deal with guilt about being jealous of every pregnant person you see. You can expect to feel guilty about feeling sad about being childless, because you know it makes others feel awkward when you tell them the truth when they innocently ask. You will quickly learn the art of saying ‘I’m great’ in a genuine and positive manner. You will also feel guilty about the joy associated with every pregnancy announcement you hear because you know that even though you are happy for them, you will be breaking down in uncontrollable tears that night in bed. You will also feel guilty for letting your partner see you break down like this because the last thing you want to do is make them worried and sad to see you in such a state of affairs. Because it can be just as hard for him but he will probably just put on a brave face and be the support you need.

  1. In this stage of life, you are faced with decisions, decisions, decisions. Some life changing, most not so much; how you would prefer to give birth (assuming you get a choice when you go into labor), what to name your child, breastfeed/bottle-feed, vaccinate/don’t vaccinate, private school/public school/home-school, organic food or just food on the table so they don’t starve, discipline/don’t discipline, ipads and TV/screen time t-total etc.

With infertility, you may have to face things you would never ever have chosen if you even had the luxury of choice (because usually the only options we do have a choice over is to give up or keep going). You can expect to have all or most of your decisions and freedom of choice (to do with your family planning) taken from you (because there is no way you will give up easily) … You will just have to keep trying anything and everything suggested to you and hope that by some miracle something will work one day. That said, with all the time you’ve spent waiting and planning to get pregnant you probably already have an accurate idea about how you think you will parent, which school your child will go to, you have read all the studies and arguments about vacs vs anti vacs and have already made your own decision on the matter even though your child is still yet to be conceived. Your birth plan is created on an in depth spreadsheet with a preference for any possible outcome and your list of baby names is so long… your own baby name book will be published soon. Except many names are probably no longer an option to you because they have since been used by people you know who have had babies in the time you were trying to conceive.

  1. This part of life, your hormones are all over the place. I mean, you’ve basically been pregnant, postpartum, or breastfeeding for the last ten years, right?

WRONG. We wish we have been hormonal because of pregnancy/postpartum for the last 10 years because that would mean we are a Mother! It would also mean that we are not currently facing the possibility of either never being a mum or of being an older Mum than we had originally planned, even though people will tell you, “your still young, at least you’ve got time on your side” in fact you will probably tell yourself that! Put it this way, by the time we get pregnant, hormone issues will totally be the norm. Especially if you’ve had to inject yourself daily with the various hormones and drugs needed to either produce so many eggs that your ovaries resemble bunches of grapes (instead of the 1 egg a month most women are naturally only designed to produce) or to create and/or sustain a pregnancy through other treatments or drugs. So basically, we will be hormone pro’s by then. Our partners however will probably have developed an extra love of beer (aka alcoholism) to help them calm their nerves after having to live and deal with a crazy hormonal person. Also, some other parts of our body may have started to resemble bunches grapes by now with the amount of wine needed to help us cope with all this. Oh wait a minute… we’re apparently not supposed to consume alcohol whilst trying to get pregnant. Crap. What’s plan B again?

  1. It’s a stage where you are struggling with identity. Is my entire identity “mommy”? Is there anything even left of me that isn’t about mothering? Is there something more glamorous I could have/should have done with my life?

Is my identity “desperately wants to be a mommy but still has no children”? Will there be anything left of me if my dream to become a mother is never fulfilled? Who needs glamour when you can be the VIP in a small person’s life?

When you’ve had the following things said to you by a specialist, Dr, friend or complete stranger, then you can come and talk to me about your loss of identity: “You need to get busy tonight in the bedroom because you are ovulating”, “is it ok if I examine you and while we are at it we should also examine your partner’s genitals just to check we haven’t missed something obvious”, “are you sure you really want kids”, “you can take mine, if you want”, “everything happens for a reason”… Oops I just accidentally punched someone in the face, it must have happened for a reason.

  1. It’s a stage where you are on a constant quest for balance, and can never find it.

It’s a stage where you are on a constant quest for balance… and hope … and less sadness … and a new purpose because you always assumed becoming a parent was your main purpose in life. You will struggle to find any of those things because having a baby, getting pregnant is LUCK, PURE LUCK and as it happens… the L in your LUCK was unexpectedly replaced with an F.

  1. It’s a stage of life where you are overloaded. Constantly. You are overloaded with questions. Your children never stop asking them. You are overloaded with touch. Someone is constantly wanting to be held, holding on to you, hanging on you, touching you. You are overloaded with to-do’s. There is so much to do. It never ends. You are overloaded with worry. You are overloaded with THINGS. Your kids have way too many toys. You are overloaded with activities. You are overloaded with THOUGHTS (thoughts about how to not be so overloaded, perhaps?).

Oh… what we would give to be overloaded with requests for cuddles. Requests to be held by someone we love so dearly. And be asked questions about everything (because they idolize us so much, that they want to learn as much as they can from us). And to be told, I love you Mummy, even just once. And to be overloaded by all the toys that YOU decided to buy them because you love them so much that you couldn’t stop yourself from showering them with gifts and toys. And activities because your kids think you’re the best person ever (even though they told you they hate you, that one time you refused to get them that toy they wanted because you felt guilty about allowing them to become spoilt brats because you couldn’t stop buying them stuff in the first place). Oh, how much we wish to be overloaded with thoughts about our own baby. Instead we are overloaded with thoughts of worry and sadness… What ifs? … Why mes? … will my luck ever change? … Will this treatment work? … What if it doesn’t, what next, is there even a next option? … How will these drugs effect my health in the long run? How will these drugs affect me now? … Are my friends getting sick of hearing about it and am I getting on their nerves? Because I for one am getting sick and tired of thinking and worrying about it!

The thing is… All the above is true. In many ways we do have things in common… Parents struggle because it’s hard sometimes. Infertile people struggle because its hard all the time. Are we a bit crazy? Probably. Would the world be the same without us? No. Women STRUGGLE and face challenges throughout various stages of life. The men in our lives also struggle because they watch us all go through these challenges and are expected to be strong and brave and support us, but what about them? They need support too. We all do. At some point in everyone’s life for one reason or another we will need support. It could be from a friend, a Councillor, a family member, a partner, or even from reading a blog about someone who is struggling with everything you are also going through. This is something we ALL have in common. Do you know what though? … These struggles are also our strengths, in every challenge there is always an OPPORTUNITY!

Let me tell you a secret: your biggest support system is… YOURSELF!!

Believe in yourself, whatever your struggle may be. After all, you have come this far in life (Not to mention that you managed to read through this blog with me blabbering on.)

Us women are made of strong stuff, there is so much pressure and expectations for us to be perfect throughout all stages of our life. We just keep going and keep trying our best. Our best effort is ENOUGH, more than enough! Believe me… Your kids will thank you for it one day, and if they don’t or you end up childless through no choice of your own. You will know you did your best and gave it everything you’ve got. You will have no regrets.

Open up – We have the chance to open up and let others know they are not alone.

Positive – In every negative situation there is always a positive, find it, focus on it and  destroy any negative thoughts.

Proud – Be proud of everything you have achieved so far, if you are struggling it means you still haven’t given up.

Outstanding courage – For never giving up and always being brave.

Rewarding – We will be rewarded in the end. For example, when your kids tell you they love you or when you finally get to hold your baby in your arms. After a struggle the reward is always bigger and better.

Treasure – Treasure the small and unexpected things, like the support you get from your partner or friends for example or the first time someone calls you ‘Mummy’.

Unique – Your journey is what makes you UNIQUE, it makes you, YOU.

New – With every opportunity there is a new beginning and a chance to learn something.

Inspire – You will get through your struggles because this stage won’t last forever. It will make you wiser and stronger and who knows, you could even become an inspiration to others!

Thrive – This is your life, you are living it and thriving because of it. It may be tough sometimes but you are ALIVE and to be alive is to THRIVE!

Young – Stay young at heart, have fun, go into nature, try something new, play make believe with your kids, roll around on the floor with them like a lunatic, let your hair down, celebrate, travel, go out with your friends, laugh, stop trying to be perfect all the time, drink wine, eat chocolate, have a bubble bath. We all deserve it, so don’t wait or make excuses, just go for it!

Trying to except what I cannot change – The mind games.

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When I see my friends with their children, I love seeing how much the children/babies have learned and how they have grown. I love their cuddles and cheeky grins. I love how much energy and determination they have. I love how innocent yet brutally honest they can be. I also love to see my friends grow as parents and overcome parenting hurdles etc.

I just really love kids… I am basically a big kid in an adult’s body. So, when I get to hang out with kiddies my inner-child’s imagination can come out and we just have fun. It’s almost like escaping the seriousness of this thing called being a ‘grown up’. Now, before you say/think the obvious… I know that as an adult/parent we still have a responsibility to set good examples for children and teach them how to grow into responsible humans (whether it’s your own or someone else’s child). However, that does not mean we shouldn’t have fun with them.

I enjoy hanging out with my friends and their little angels (AKA mini devils!).

But then I go home. To my quiet house. Where I have time to think, because I don’t have kids singing (AKA ‘screaming’ in parenting circle’s) in my ears all the time (Well OK, I do have a dog barking at me occasionally for attention, but you get the idea). Now I know that the notion of a ‘quiet house’ may seem appealing to many parents, who would probably give anything just to have a moment of peace and quiet, alone.

However, I am going to try and fill you in about what it’s like being me and some of the things that go through my head, in the moments when I’m sat at home in silence, with no kids, thinking about the latter.

This is an idea of the kind of conversations I have with myself in my own head occasionally, when I am thinking about children and my infertility:

Negative me: “I should be watching my own child play with their children by now.”                …When I first started trying to conceive, some of my friends were either pregnant, had also started trying to get pregnant or had recently had a baby. Now many of them have toddlers who can walk/talk and here I am still childless and not pregnant. If I didn’t have infertility, I would probably also have an under-2-year-old little angel of my own and I would be watching them play with my friends’ babies/children by now.

Positive me: “Yes but I’m not and that’s OK, because my child will be here one day and when they are it will all be perfect. They will just have lots of older children friends to cuddle instead. My time will come.”

Negative me: “In the time I have been trying to get pregnant with my 1st, I have seen some people have not one, but TWO babies.”

Positive me: “That’s their story. It’s got nothing to do with me and I would be overjoyed to have just one baby. Besides, I personally wouldn’t choose to have my children so close in age, even if I did ever decide to have more than one. So, it is completely useless comparing myself to someone who is a baby making machine.”

Other me: “Yes well… I’m not a baby making machine am I, but I should be though. After all, I’m healthy, young, fit and have no family history of any infertility at all. No to mention I would be an awesome parent.

Negative me: “It’s just not fair though. Conceiving a baby should be romantic, not heartbreaking. It should just happen when we choose, like it seems to for most people.”

Other me: “Yes, but you know better than most, that you can’t ‘choose’ or ‘control’ anything when it comes to becoming a parent, even if you are very fertile. Some people might not truly have wanted or have chosen to get pregnant when they did, or it may not have been ‘perfect’ timing for them.”

Positive me: “At least I know how much my baby is wanted long before they are even conceived.”

Other me: “Some people only realize this when they get pregnant or when they meet their baby. Or in cases of postnatal depression, often they do want their baby, but sadly they may not realize it until a few months after the baby is born.”

Negative me: “Why me? What did I ever do to deserve this?”

Positive me: “Nothing! I did nothing to deserve this! I am a good person. This is not my fault.”

Negative me: “I am a failure as a woman. I can’t even do the one thing the female body is designed to do!”

Other me: “I shouldn’t think like that, it’s not healthy”

Negative me: “But I can’t help it though, it’s how I feel sometimes. It’s just not fair. What’s the point, I’m useless and I fail at being a woman because I can’t get pregnant!”

Positive me: “I would be such a great parent, in fact I was born to be a parent one day. Besides I haven’t failed yet because I haven’t given up yet!”

Other me: “Yes and this isn’t my fault anyway. Having a baby is not determined by how much skill someone has or how much effort they put into it. It’s basically just pure luck.”

Positive me: “This is my journey and it’s tough but it will make me a better parent and a stronger, tougher person”

Negative me: “But it sucks! Why does this have to happen to me?!”

Other me: “Most people just have sex and it costs them nothing. No time. No waiting. No needles. No tests. No surgeries. No drugs and no mind games each month wondering if they might be pregnant or not. They just have sex, get pregnant and have a baby.”

Positive me: “It will happen for us one day, we just need some extra help, that’s all.

Other me: “Anyway people who get pregnant quickly usually seem to be less prepared for it and it may even come as a bit of a shock to them. At least we are prepared and excited for it and will feel overwhelmed with joy when it’s our turn…”

Negative me: “Yes, but I would rather be less prepared, if it meant that I didn’t have to go through all this shit”

Other me: “Oh just shut up! You can’t control any of this! So, stop thinking about what you don’t have and what others do have.”

Negative me: “but, but, but.. WHY!” …

Positive me: “Yes, it is what it is. You didn’t chose this, it just happened to you. Just think about what you do have, what you have achieved in your life and how much you will love your baby, when you are finally blessed”.

So on and so on…

So, there you have it, my deepest darkest secrets hanging out in public for everyone to read! I know you probably think I am slightly crazy for having some of these thoughts. You may even be thinking I might have a few mental issues. However, I can assure you I am a normal, 29-year-old female who happens to have infertility (not that anyone can pinpoint what classifies someone as normal, mind you!). Also, I know I am a good person, who is happy most of the time but also sometimes sad.

It’s taken me a while to get to this point, but I have accepted that I am infertile and that it also doesn’t define me as a person. I am also very lucky to have options for treatment as I know not everyone is as lucky as I am. Most importantly I have not given up hope for a family of my own.

If you are reading this and going through the same thing or struggling to come to terms with your infertility. Please reach out to someone, whether it’s a friend, family member, support group, councilor or you can even message me via this blog.

You are NOT alone. It is NOT your fault (or anyone else’s fault for that matter). You will be OK and together we will get through it, whatever the outcome.

Love, luck and baby dust all round!!

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Charlotte

5 reasons why I am grateful for my infertility journey.

I know I have mentioned this in previous posts and it is no secret but… infertility SUCKS! However, there are some aspects of this journey, which I am thank-full for:

1. It has brought me and my partner even closer than ever before.

We have always been close as a couple, some would even say inseparable at times, however this journey has connected us in ways I never imagined. I truly believe we have learned and discovered things about each other, which we would’ve otherwise never known, had we not been faced with infertility. I always knew deep down that we are soul mates who are committed to each other, however this journey so far has shown me how truly committed we are. Considering my partner didn’t particularly want kids a few years ago… He constantly supports and encourages me, through all the tears, pain, appointments, surgeries and is even doing everything he can to help me save a decent pot of gold either for treatment or for our future baby. I know for certain that he is in this relationship and our future for the long haul, which is an incredible thing in itself… my mum or anyone who has ever lived with me will understand what I mean by that! lol

Being strong and committed as a couple, will stand us in good stead for parenting and all the challenges involved. Also, given what we have already been through, I don’t think there is much we couldn’t cope with together as a couple and as individuals. Even though this journey has tested us at times, it hasn’t broken us and we haven’t given up, it has made us stronger.

2. I know who my real friends are; and how lucky I am to have so many!

I am so glad I decided to be honest and open about our infertility journey with friends and family, because the support has been encouraging on the dark days. Even though at times, some people have said the wrong things and left me in tears… I have had many more people who have said the right things or just listened. Which is another reason why it has been important to be open and honest about it. It has enabled me to form some very close relationships with my friends and what makes it even more special, is that they too are part of our journey. So much so, that when the times comes, they will be considered as part of our family for us and our child. After all many of them have hoped and prayed with us and will celebrate just as much when the time comes, which makes me feel incredibly lucky.

3. I have learned a lot about my body and how important it is to respect it.

I have become healthier and more aware of my body because of this journey. I pay attention to every twinge/ache and I no longer abuse my body in any way (well except for the occasional glass of wine and piece of chocolate, who am I kidding? lol).

It’s so easy to take your health for granted sometimes, I certainly used to! I know (and believe) more than most people do, about the damaging effect things such as; chemicals, alcohol, drugs, plastics, pesticides, caffeine and sugar can have, not only on our environment but also our bodies, our health and the health of our unborn and yet to be conceived baby. Before this journey, I knew it was important to be healthy during pregnancy but what I didn’t realize was… how truly important it is for you and your baby’s health, to be as healthy and fit as possible months before conception.

Having done an obscene amount of research on this, the most crucial aspects of a baby’s genetics and general health are determined by egg and sperm health, long before conception. Not to mention that the healthier and stronger mother and father are before conception, the less chance there is of having side-effects and complications during pregnancy, birth and post-partum. I have also had the time to strengthen all major muscles in my body, including my core and pelvic floor. Which has helped me with recovery after surgery and I know will help me during pregnancy, birth and recovery when I do eventually become pregnant. For example, I won’t need to learn pelvic floor exercises from my midwife when I’m pregnant, because I already know how to do them correctly and do so regularly, which means I should have less chance of having issues with my pelvic floor during/after birth,

4. It has given us more time to do certain things before we become ‘responsible’ parents.

I’ve never been a materialist person at all, however I did always want to raise a family under my own roof (which I paid for). We managed to buy a house and pay of some of our mortgage already. This means we will be paying a lower amount in mortgage each week (than we did when we were renting) as well as paying off our own investment (instead of someone else’s). It will also make things a little less tight financially when we are down to one wage, because one of us will be off work raising our child. We have had time to do some DIY and improvements on the house, which would’ve been hard to achieve (physically and financially) with one of us working full time and the other looking after a baby. We have also been on numerous holiday’s, trips and weekends away. Basically, just making the most of how long we’ve got left, of our child-free life, before things get real! lol

5. This is probably the most important… I already know exactly how much our future baby is wanted, loved and appreciated.

Now I’m not saying that couples who haven’t been through infertility and got pregnant easily, didn’t want/love their baby as much as those who have struggled with infertility. I know that most parents do love their child with all their hearts, regardless of how they were conceived or how long it took, whether it was ‘an accident’ or planned. What I’m saying is, we have literally… prayed, wished, cried, grieved, dreamed, begged, bargained and hoped for a baby and the chance to become parents, for years now. Not to mention all the medical things and pain I have so far, and will continue to, endure… just to create our baby. Literally, the thought of how much I already love my (future) child and what I am prepared to do for them, brings tears of love to my eyes!

Whilst I am very hopeful and believe it will happen for us eventually, there have been times when we have considered the possibility, that we may never get the chance to experience the joys (and not so joyful moments) of pregnancy and parenting. So even though I don’t believe I will ever complain about my pregnancy, birth or raising my child… and I have been told by many people that I will complain at some stage. I’m pretty certain I won’t take it for grated as much as I might’ve done if I had gotten pregnant easily. Maybe I will or maybe I won’t complain sometimes… I won’t truly know the answer to that, until I experience pregnancy, birth and raising my own baby. The only thing I know right now, is what is in my heart, which is how much I want this.

Even though I sometimes wish I could’ve just had sex and got pregnant easily like most people, so I could avoid all the pain and heartache of infertility… We are incredibly lucky to already know how much we love, want and appreciate our child now, before he or she has even been conceived.

I can’t wait to tell my future child the story of how much (and how long) we (and all our close friends and family) loved and wished for them and celebrated them, when they come into our life. There are not many parents who are lucky enough to be able to tell their children that!

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My Journey so far…

Ever since I was a little girl playing with my dolls, I always knew I wanted to be a Mum one-day. However, what I really wanted was more than that… it was a family, with a supportive and loving partner and father of our child/children.

Well, I grew up into an adult and eventually, after a couple of disastrous relationships; I met my dream partner and soul mate (about 6/7 years ago). Approximately 2 years into our perfect relationship, I knew I wanted to have a family with him, because I knew he would be an amazing father. So I asked him if we could start a family together.

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He was equally excited and agreed, so we had sex a few times and a couple of months later I fell pregnant… 9 months later after a normal pregnancy our beautiful baby was born and we all lived happily ever after…

…At least that was how I was expecting my story to go.

Sadly it was far from the picture perfect fairytale that many people around me seemed to experience (whilst complaining to me about how hard it is).

My fertility journey has been one I never expected to experience. It has been the single most difficult and soul-searching journey I have ever been through.

If you want to know every detail to date, then please read on: Although, just to pre-warn you, it will take you a while to read, so you might want to read this when you’ve got 10 minutes!

Unfortunately, the love of my life was not as keen on the idea of having a baby because it had never been something that had been on his radar for his future. We talked about it for a long time, the pros and the cons, how it would change our life etc. He did a lot of research and spoke privately to many of his close friends who already had children, to help him make a decision. After about a year or so of discussing, he finally told me that he wanted to have a baby with me. However, he wanted to wait another year before officially trying, so we could save some money and buy a house first etc. (See what I mean about him being a great potential father!)

I was over the moon and so excited to start this [what seemed like] long awaited moment. I was convinced that the hard bit was now over and that I would be pregnant or be a mum within a year, because everyone else in my family was apparently extremely fertile. I was also told when I was a teenager, that you practically only have to touch a boy to get pregnant, so how hard could it be?

So the first step of the journey began…

The first few months of trying to get pregnant was fun and exciting. I would happily search for baby names, fantasize about the nursery, daydream about being pregnant and couldn’t wait for the exciting finale of giving birth. So that I could hold, cuddle, kiss and swoon over my own precious baby who I knew would be so loved and adored. We also bought our first house and I even decided where in the spare room I might put the cot and the nursing chair, when the time comes to purchase baby stuff.

Admittedly, it didn’t happen straight away like I had naively expected. However, I had read on ‘Dr Google’ that it could take a normal healthy couple up to a year to conceive. So even after 6, 7, 8, 9 + months of regular unprotected sex, I wasn’t worried (maybe getting a little impatient at times) but still hopeful and excited.

Image result for not pregnantTowards the end of that first year of actively trying for a baby, there were a couple of cycles where my period was really late (by weeks, not days). As you can imagine, I was convinced I might be pregnant. I also felt bloated, nauseous, had a heightened sense of smell and had sore boobs etc. However, test after test and even blood tests at the Dr’s all came back negative. I was confused, frustrated, and upset. Eventually my period arrived and after a few tears I picked myself up, focused on being healthy, hopeful and excited for the future.

Then, along came the 1-year mark. We had started trying a couple of months before Christmas the year before so it was very apparent it had been a year since we had officially started, even though I hadn’t even been on the pill for 5 years and we had been only using the timing method for a year before we officially started trying.Image result for infertile sign

This was the point when I started to think there might be something wrong. After 12 months of actively trying to get pregnant and no success, we were medically classed as infertile (this is after 6 months for women who are over 35). It was totally unexpected; this is when things started to get tough.

So I made an appointment with my Dr and had blood tests to check my hormone levels as well as urine samples, swabs and cervical smears, to check for any infections. I had to do a blood test every week for 3 monthly cycle’s because there was a lab error with my first one, which meant the result had falsely come back as progesterone too high. Which means I worried about this issue completely unnecessarily… It also meant I then had to do a different kind of blood test where they put a needle in your arm, leave it in for 90mins and take 2-3 vials of blood every 15-20mins (apparently this is to eliminate the possibility that the stress of giving the blood sample could effect your hormones… what kind of messed up joke is that?!)

Anyway, the results came back completely normal along with all my other blood tests, I also had a good egg reserve; there was no reason so far why we hadn’t conceived.

A similar thing happened to my partner when he did his semen analysis; just getting the samples tested was a drama. At times it was stressful but probably something we will laugh/joke about in years to come hopefully…

The first sample he did, I took to the wrong place. I had followed the instructions carefully on the form (which consisted of an address to drop it off). When I dropped it off, I was informed that it was the wrong place and that the sample had to be kept warm and dropped off within 1 hour of the sample being taken. (These were details my Dr’s nurse had failed to inform me and so we had no idea, it had been a complete waste of time and the sample was over an hour old.) The second sperm test he did was dropped off at the right place and within 1 hour. The results came back inconsistent and low count (with no other explanation except that he had to redo the sample.) This was utterly devastating. So he did a third test, which came back COMPLETELY NORMAL!! We were so so relieved; he eventually did a fourth test, just to be sure (in the car park of the lab [OMG]… to ensure the freshness of the sample because the lab was a 30 min drive from our house, which usually meant a splash and dash!! lol). The 4th test also came back perfect… happy days!!

So now we knew everything was great with my partner’s swimmers, it was back to me. My Dr sent me for an ultrasound next (yes, exactly like the ultrasound a pregnant women gets, where they put a magic wand up your ‘you know what’ and poke it around, to try and see what’s going on in there). This also meant sitting in a waiting room surrounded by pregnant women happily looking at scan photos and rubbing their growing bumps, which I so longed for. It was torture, I had never imagined my ‘first scan’ to be like this. The results showed some swelling near my ovaries, but I was told they couldn’t tell me much more and [they] would need to investigate further.

So next my Dr sent me for a HSG test. Which, pleasantly involved a complete stranger [radiologist] pushing a tube through my cervix, filling my womb with die and gas and taking X-rays of my lower abdomen, to find out if my fallopian tubes were open or blocked. I was sent home afterwards with a course of antibiotics, an Ibuprofen and told to expect discomfort for the rest of the day, but was fine to go to work. However, by the end of the day I was in agony (whilst still having to finish my shift at work). The pain continued for days and got worse. After 5 days I went back to my Dr, she gave me a strong painkiller to put up my bum (glamorous!) and told me there was nothing else they could do because I had already taken 5 days of antibiotics. Luckily a week after the test the pain had eased. Eventually I got the results back, which revealed I had one blocked fallopian tube and the other appeared to be in a tangled mess!

After I had received the result, I cried all day. I was a mess. I couldn’t believe it. I was gutted and felt sick. I thought, why me!!

Around the same time we also received some more bad news. My partner’s father had been unexpectedly diagnosed with terminal Cancer; he was 68 years old and had not long retired. My partner immediately flew to the UK where they live, to be by his father’s bedside. I flew over as soon as I could (due to work commitments I couldn’t avoid). However, I only made it in time to say goodbye at the funeral. It was heart breaking and what made it even worse was that we never had chance to give him a grandchild, which he would’ve adored so much.

When we got back to NZ, I was greeted with a letter from the Dr saying that I had been put on the waiting list to see a specialist about my fertility. I was extremely lucky because I only had to wait a month or so after that to get an appointment.

I went along to the appointment to see the specialist and was told that I would need surgery to attempt to reconstruct my tubes. I was also told that there would be a chance they may have to remove one or both of my tubes because they don’t know exactly their condition, until they operate.

I went home and cried all day… again.

I was scared but hopeful for the surgery. Upset and disappointed with my own body because there was something wrong with me but also glad that it was no longer unexplained and I was getting help. It was a roller coaster ride and not the enjoyable kind!

While I was going through all of this, I had more than my fair share of well-meant yet insensitive comments and un-helpful advice from people, such as; ‘just relax’, ‘it will happen when you least expect it and stop trying so hard’, ‘you are lucky because crying babies/soiled nappies/sleepless nights are hard work’.  There were questions and more advice such as; ‘have you tried this/that [diet/treatment/therapy/prayer], it worked for my friend’s, brothers, wife’s friend after x amount of years/treatment’. Then there was all the pregnancy announcements, invitations to 1st birthdays, Mothers day, Fathers day and baby showers etc. Of course I was happy that other people had good news or happy families, and glad they still included me. But it was still a constant reminder, every single day; everywhere I went (even at home on TV or social media) of the fact that I couldn’t/hadn’t gotten pregnant and [it felt like] everyone else could or had.

I had never in my life felt so alone and isolated. I felt jealous. I felt guilty of being jealous of other people’s happiness. I felt angry and upset for myself.

I just wanted to be ‘in the club’ with my friends.

It was horrendous, very similar to grief. Something, you can never truly understand unless you’ve been through it. Which is why infertility is so isolating and lonely, even though it’s more common than people realize and apparently 1 in 8 couples go through it!! Fertility is still a taboo subject and many couples choose to keep it private for various reasons.

Even now writing this, I’m holding back the tears because when you go through  something like that, even when you do become strong again, it never really leaves you and can be hard to forget. It changes you.

Despite all of this, I have been one of the lucky ones. I have some amazing, lovely and supportive friends and family. Without having had them to listen to my rants, updates and complaining, I honestly don’t think I would still have the strength to continue on this journey.

My partner has also been a huge support in so many ways. However, this journey has had a big impact on our relationship. At one point we were arguing quite a bit because of the build up of stress/pressure in our lives (we never used to argue much at all). So he suggested that we go and get some professional help/guidance. I was initially upset about this, but he explained to me that he saw it as ‘the beginning of an even stronger future together’. He also said, if we are strong and solid as a couple, we would cope with the challenge of parenting much better when we do eventually become parents (my goodness I am lucky to have him!). We went to a counsellor together and it was fantastic. We talked so much, had a few tears (well I did!), we learned so much about each other and us as a couple, even though I really believed we already knew everything about each other!

So because of this journey, I truly believe we are stronger than ever and really have the tools and emotional capacity as a couple to deal with just about anything life throws at us, especially the challenges of parenting.

img_2691We started to worry less about small things and focused on doing things that make us happy. So we treated ourselves to a spa pool, spent lots of time in the garden, getting stuck into nature and growing our own food, which was very therapeutic. We also did more exercise and paid more attention to our health and the quality of nutrition we were putting into our bodies and made sure we were taking img_2548all the right supplements.

We gradually eliminated all chemicals from our house and garden and tried to be as natural and organic as we could without putting any extra pressure on ourselves. We went on fun a holiday to Queenstown; I had regular massages and pampering. But best of all…. We got a PUPPY!!

 

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After only 4/5 months from my initial appointment with the specialist I received an appointment for my surgery. I was so lucky; I even got sent to the private hospital so they could fit me in sooner! I began to feel like luck was on my side. So although I was still scared, nervous and worried, I was also hopeful about the surgery and future.

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A few hours after my surgery, the specialist/surgeon came to see me with an update about how the surgery had gone… It turned out that BOTH my tubes were blocked and had scaring; there had also been a lot of fluid and swelling in one of them. Anyway, the specialist had managed to completely unblock and reconstruct both of my tubes! So even though I was tired, sore and had severe vomiting (because I’m allergic to general anaesthetic) It was overwhelming, great news and I cried happy tears! He told me there is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to conceive naturally, and I would get an appointment at the fertility clinic about 4 months after my surgery for a follow up.

That was almost 6 months ago now. We had a month off ‘trying’ after my surgery, so that my body could fully recover because I wanted to be strong again before potentially carrying a baby.

About 4 months after my surgery, I still hadn’t received a letter for the follow up appointment I was promised to have by then. So, I decided to go to a private fertility clinic and pay to do a monitored cycle (blood tests every few days to find out exactly when I ovulate). I did 2 monitored cycles and still no pregnancy; although we did find out I had ovulated slightly later than average on both cycles. During the second monitored cycle I had what felt like ‘so I had read on Google’, implantation cramps 7-10 days after ovulation. Well obviously it wasn’t and I was left feeling frustrated and confused again for what felt like the 100th time. So the nurse at the clinic suggested that we book and pay to see the specialist.

A couple of weeks later (no waiting months for appointments when you pay privately) we went along to see the fertility specialist. Cut a long story short… She tells us (after studying all my notes, tests and surgeries from the last few years, as well as my partners notes) that even though my tubes had been surgically opened, it doesn’t mean they still work properly. This is because they have probably been blocked since I was about 19 (when I had an infection in one tube, which was discovered by a surgery I had for suspected appendicitis). She also told us that the latest test my partner did (for this appointment) came back low count and low morphology, which is a concern if we are trying naturally (but not a concern if we do IVF). Her main concern was my tubes, because the sperm is irrelevant if the egg can’t get down the tube successfully.

So the next steps from here are:

– Another HSG (dye test) to check if my tubes are still open or blocked up again.

– If they are still open, we will continue to try naturally for the next 6 months (because we can’t go on the waiting list for another surgery or IVF until 1 year after my surgery, which is 6 months from now or unless they are blocked again).

– If they are blocked again, or if after 6 months (still open) and still no pregnancy, I will go on the waiting list for surgery to remove my tubes.

– After that my only option for pregnancy will be IVF, so then I will go on the waiting list for IVF.

In the mean time I have taken on extra shifts at work and saving every cent I can (need about $15,000 for one round). So that if it comes to it, we can hopefully afford to pay for IVF, if the waiting list is really long. If we get lucky before we need to pay for IVF, then we can go on a nice holiday somewhere to celebrate, with the money I’ve saved!

I always feel really lucky for all the good things in my life. But I do still have good days and bad days.

On the good days I am hopeful, positive and happy.

The bad days however, are tough. I might go a few days (or weeks if I’m lucky) without any bad days and then boom… I will see loads of baby bumps in one day or someone will say something insensitive or announce their ‘accidental’ pregnancy or a certain song will come on the radio when I’m driving and I just can’t stop the tears from coming.

I will keep picking myself up and I will keep going. I wont give up yet. This does not define me as a person. It will make me stronger. It will make me a better, more loving parent (well actually I think it already has because I’ve already done so much for my future small human, even before conception). I will cherish each and every single moment as a parent, even the not so good ones. Our future child will be so precious and special to us, our very own miracle child… All I need to do is keep praying and believing!!

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To be continued….

 

 

 

The Green-eyed Monster

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OK, so I’m just going to come out with it…

I am jealous of you! (parent/soon to be parent) Well to be more precise, I’m jealous of your ability to conceive easily (within 12 months of trying) and naturally. Sometimes without even really trying or by ‘accident’.

I also feel guilty about feeling like this. I have never been the ‘jealous type’, so it makes it harder to deal with. It makes me question who I am. Infertility changes you as a person.

I am excited/happy for you but want I really want is; and what infertility denies me (besides the obvious) … is the ability and strength to be excited with you. There is a big difference.

*I would never expect anyone who hasn’t been through the grief and mental torture of infertility to understand what it feels like. In fact, even though it may help people like me cope better if more people did [understand]. Deep down I truly hope they never understand because I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy (well, sometimes I do wish it on child abusers & horrible people who would be/are bad parents etc. if I’m being completely honest).

So, there you have it. Jealousy. Envy. Guilt. …Anger (towards child abusers and sometimes the universe).

I know you are probably thinking, ‘why can’t you just be happy for them/me’. Well, I am [happy for them/you]. Trust me! If you don’t believe me, please read paragraph 3 again*.  I am happy that you get to experience the joy parenting brings. I am even more happy that you have been spared the same fate as me. That you never have to deal with or experience the heartbreak of mourning/grieving a child that has only ever existed in your hopes and dreams. That you never had to deal with the disappointment and feeling like you are a failure month after month. That you never have to deal with, needles, tests, surgeries, having your Dr be a part of your sex life and then having other people tell you to just have fun ‘in the bed room’ and ‘enjoy it’.

Disclaimer… Just to clarify, I do not/will not ever compare the grief experienced from not conceiving a child, to the grief of a parent losing a child through death. There is nothing worse than a parent losing a child that lived. I can’t even begin to imagine what that is like.

So many times, I have been made to feel silly and people respond to me like I’m exaggerating or it’s not that bad, when I open-up and talk about it (by the way, it takes immense strength and bravery to talk about it with anyone, even family and close friends).

I wish I were exaggerating about it.

Some comments I’ve received have implied that it’s my fault because I haven’t tried this or that therapy/treatment/considered adoption/some miracle Chinese treatment/standing on my head or simply if only I could ‘just relax’ or ‘stop trying’ and ‘it will happen when you least expect it’. Yep, you can say that again, because I least expected it to have taken this long. So, I guess in some ways it will happen when I least expect it, because I expected it to happen within one year of trying like normal people, and it didn’t. f5f5526c39c52c05ad05e56430764f6d

Then there’s the ‘well at least you’ comments. Such as; ‘at least you have lots of time to do things for yourself’, ‘at least you can control your emotions because you can’t when you’ve got pregnancy hormones’, ‘at least you can sleep at night because you don’t have a crying baby to breastfeed’, ‘at least you got lots of other things to be thank-full for’ etc.

Now I know that some of you may be reading this and thinking…

“oh god. I’ve said those things to her or to someone else going through in fertility.”

Well, I’m not going to lie to you… YES those comments are hurtful and always annoying. However, we [infertile people] don’t blame you because… read paragraph 3* again. We don’t blame you because you don’t know what else to say and most of the time you just want to help us somehow. Also, nearly everyone (except those who have been through it themselves) who knows about my infertility has said at least one of more of the above to me at some stage, so you are not alone in your well-meant comments. Even a Dr once told me to ‘just relax’ after a year of trying. Needless to say, he’s not my Dr any more. Which is a good thing because I ended up needing surgery and it might’ve not been diagnosed if I didn’t go to a different Dr for a second opinion!

Hence why I am writing this blog, to educate (not blame/shame) people. (Well, except for that useless Dr!)

The truth is…

If I had just ‘stopped trying’ and listened to the uneducated advice/opinions, I would’ve 100% had ZERO chance of ever getting pregnant because infertility is a diagnosed medical disease. Which, in almost ALL cases will need some form of medical treatment after 1 year (for women under 35) of unsuccessfully trying to conceive (6 months for women over 35).

The truth is…

Nope, I don’t have any control over my emotions and hormones, if I did this journey would be so much easier. I have learn’t some ways to help me get through but that is not the same as having control. In fact, many infertile women who are having treatment and drugs are dealing with hormone side effects too because they are having extra hormones pumped into them on top of their natural hormones. Even if they are not at the stage of having hormone treatment to help them conceive, they will still have to deal with the normal hormones around ovulation time and their monthly bleed. On top of dealing with hormones around their period, they will also be trying to hold it together and deal with the grief of another month without their dreams and hopes being fulfilled, despite all the hard work they put into it again that month.

The truth is…

Many nights I don’t sleep. Not because a hungry/unsettled baby is keeping me awake by 484601507-depressed-survivor-56a514bb5f9b58b7d0dac669crying. I don’t sleep at night because I am keeping myself awake crying because I don’t have a baby.

Disclaimer… I’m not saying that a crying baby who doesn’t sleep isn’t hard work, exhausting, frustrating, upsetting and probably worrying at times. I get it, it’s difficult and you have every right to seek advice or support. All I’m trying to say is, infertile people would give anything to be in your shoes, no matter how hard parenting can be at times. So, comments such as, ‘at least you aren’t sleep deprived’ are incredibly insensitive towards people going through infertility. Please don’t mistake my comments to imply that you are not grateful for your children, just because you open up about how difficult parenting is. If you weren’t grateful for your children, you would be one of those bad parents who probably neglect or abuse them. Seeking support/advice for ‘normal parenting struggles’ and more serious parenting struggles, is always a good (and brave) thing to do. You should never be made to feel anything less than a good parent for seeking help/support. Just perhaps be considerate of who you are talking to about it. If your infertile friend is the only or best person you’ve got to talk to, then explain that to them. Tell them you are finding things difficult and ask if you can talk about it with them, they will support you the best way they can. If they can’t, they may help you find someone who can support you.

And finally… I can’t believe I actually have to clarify this one, because it shocks me every time someone says ‘at least you have other things to be thankful for’

YES, yes I do have many things in my life which, I am more grateful for than you can possibly imagine. However, does that mean I should be denied the right to want to have a baby?? Does that mean, if I don’t end up having a family, that when I’m old and become a widow (because my partner is a few years older, so chances are I will) I should have just been grateful for everything else I had in my life and not regret growing old and lonely without any kids/grand-kids? Um … NO it does not.

Yes, I am grateful for every little thing in my life that is good. In fact, probably more than most people… because I truly understand how fragile life is. I understand how it is a complete miracle that any of us are here and how one day (without warning) anyone could face the possibility of never achieving their biggest dream in life or losing something close to their heart, through no fault of their own. Even though it was something they had always assumed would just happen in their future without any issues.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, you never expect that it will happen to you, until it does and you can’t imagine what it’s like until it happens [to you].

So, if you want to help and support a friend going through infertility because you care about that person/couple… All you need to do is:r0_0_360_427_w1200_h678_fmax

  • Listen to them, hug them, tell them you are sorry, tell them it sucks, tell them you are praying for them, that you hope one day they will be able to share the happy, nervous and exciting news that they too are ‘expecting’ a baby.
  • Please, unless you’ve been through infertility or you are a fertility specialist/expert, STOP with the advice.
  • STOP with the insensitive comments (no matter how well-meant they are).
  • Never tell them to ‘just relax’ EVER!!! This just makes them less relaxed and you are basically insinuating that their feelings aren’t valid and that it’s their fault they haven’t conceived yet. Just don’t say it. Trust me.
  • Be considerate when announcing your pregnancy. For example, tell them in private or one to one if you can. So they don’t have to put on a brave face in front of everyone for too long. Don’t get upset if they don’t jump for joy initially, because it doesn’t mean they aren’t happy for you, they are just incredibly sad for themselves. The best way to announce it to them is by (a kind) phone call or message, because they won’t have to try and hold back their tears in front of you. It will just be another reminder to them that everyone else, except them, is getting pregnant. They will make it up to you when they are ready and have processed your news. Just give them time and space.
  • PLEASE be MINDFUL of who you are talking to when complaining about normal side-affects/challenges with pregnancy and raising a child/baby. Because just as we will get better advice from a specialist or someone who has experienced infertility… You will also get better advice and support from other parents who are going through/been through your struggles. They understand it better than we do and they probably aren’t sitting there wishing to have even just one day in your shoes, whilst listening to you complain about it.
  • NEVER EVER try to purposely rub your pregnancy in their face by going on and on and on about how utterly, amazingly, excited and happy you are and showing off every, single, thing to do with being pregnant and constantly rubbing your bump with your hands in front of them non-stop (this drives us insane with envy). We do want to see you happy and excited because it’s much better than hearing you complain, but just please don’t overdo it on purpose, at least not in front of us. Also, remember that 1 in 4 of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. So, when you are obsessively rubbing your bump in public please consider, that it is quite possible, there is someone nearby who has lost a pregnancy. In private you can go to town on your bump, rub it, sing to it, paint it, eat your dinner on it, kiss it (if you can reach haha). It’s ok to show off a bit (hell, I certainly will when it’s my turn) just try to tone it down slightly in public. By the way, this is exactly why baby showers can be painful for some infertile women. Which leads me nicely onto the next point…
  • Don’t exclude them!! They are already feeling lonely and isolated, because they are probably one of the only/few childless couples in their circle of friends. Don’t treat them any differently by not inviting them to events such as baby showers/kid’s birthdays etc. Yes, they might make an excuse not to come, or they may be honest with you about how they feel, or they may just come and have a great time. However, if you assume it will be too difficult for them if you invite them… it will hurt their feelings and make them feel even more isolated. Just respect their choice whether they attend or not and don’t be offended if they decline, it’s nothing personal against you.

One last thing… You may or may not realize this but your infertile friend is most likely one of the toughest, strongest, most resilient and determined warrior you will ever meet. However, that doesn’t mean their heart isn’t breaking into a million pieces. They still need and want your love and support now more than ever and love can make miracles happen!peices-of-my-heart-21691428

Thanks for reading! Please share this and spread the word. If it makes one person feel less alone or stop one person from saying the wrong thing or prevent even just one sleepless night in tears. Then it is worth sharing, don’t you think?