Way back in my younger years I always believed that falling pregnant would be easy. That, because my mum had had 7 children, there is no way that I would have any problems in having the family I always wanted. I never knew there was such a thing as secondary infertility. How little I knew back then.
The first time around
I fell pregnant quickly with Grace back in 2006. So quickly that her father did not believe that she was his – he demanded a DNA test when she was just 10 months old (laughable when she looked so like him back then). My pregnancy was a little complicated in the fact that I needed a CVS test because of a balanced translocation of my chromosomes. But the result of this was fine, I was lucky enough not to get morning sickness, went into labour naturally and Grace arrived safe and sound with little in the way of intervention. I didn’t realise how lucky I was at the time.
The first miscarriage
I will never forget the date. The 3rd October 2013. Fittingly a week before Baby Loss Awareness week. Ross and I were on a high with the fact that I was pregnant. I got up that morning to help Grace with a bath and realised I was bleeding. I feared the worst and I wasn’t wrong. The bleeding increased and I lost the baby. Suddenly I realised I wasn’t invincible.
The ongoing pain
At that point I didn’t realise that I would go on to spend nearly 3 years trying for a baby. All I knew was a devastating loss. I started to spiral down into a hole, which I don’t think I have ever quite climbed out of. The miscarriage affected me in more ways than I could imagine. I firmly believe that this was the reason that my frozen shoulder also came about. The stress was all-consuming.
I started to comfort eat and put on a lot of weight. I found it hard to find joy in anything and felt distanced from Ross and Grace. It didn’t help that I was so far from my mum. For the first time in my life, despite the fact that I should have found joy in my family unit, I felt so very, very alone. Ross tried. Grace tried. But I couldn’t see a way out. As a result now, when I am having a hard day, I find it harder to come back up again as a result of these newfound sad feelings from the fallout of my loss. I don’t think I will ever recover.
The anniversary of the first miscarriage
On that first anniversary I was kind to myself. I bought myself a beautiful orchard, my mum sent me a box of chocolates and I took the day off completely – something I rarely did at that point.
Grace was away with her father so, in the evening, I settled down with Ross to watch one of our programmes and eat chocolate and then I got a text. It was from my sister telling me she was pregnant. The tears that had stopped flowing for the day started again. Of course, I never told her at the time. I didn’t want to take away her complete and utter happiness. I only told her about this a week ago and, bless her, she was so apologetic. There was no need for her to apologise though. She had every right to share her happiness.
The second miscarriage
For some reason the second miscarriage, just over a year later, was far easier to bear. It didn’t make it any easier but at least there was an explanation. It was an ectopic pregnancy and, thankfully, one which was self-aborting. I didn’t need surgery and, despite the extreme upset, I got through it – thankful for the fact that I could still get pregnant.
For so very long after this, there was nothing. Months of trying, of timing, of using conception aids and gadgets, all to no avail. The pain of seeing other people getting pregnant consumed me. Unless you are in this position, you can never understand the extreme desperation of trying for a baby, hoping this month was it and feeling the disappointment when, once again, your period made it’s appearance.
The trying affected our sex life. It became mechanical. Not romantic, just a function with a means to an end. We were together in so many ways but I felt like I was letting the side down. My body worked before, so why wouldn’t it again?
The hardest decision
Ross and I were getting frequently more desperate. We were looking for a way out and, so, IVF became a discussion. We had my AMH levels tested but these were so low that IVF with my eggs became too much of a gamble. A donors eggs were then under consideration.
It took me a while to come to terms with this. I was the one with the problem. I was letting the side down and not giving Ross what he so desperately wanted. In the end I realised that I was the lucky one. If it was Ross with the issue then he would not have even had the benefit of carrying the baby. I knew I could carry one, I had done it already. I just needed younger, healthier eggs. And how lucky was I to be able to carry that baby, nourish it, grow it and fill it with my epigenetics.
A failed IVF
I had previously lost 3 babies. Two with Ross and one before. But now I consider the fact that I have lost another 4 embryos. Two boys and two girls were transferred into me after our egg donor attempt with the clinic in Cyprus. We know now that this would have posed a danger to me had the pregnancy gone ahead – but these were still 4 little lives that were lost.
Of course, in June our beautiful boy, Rex, was born thanks to the efforts of IVF Spain and the competition run by Fertility Road Magazine. I will never forget the kindness they extended to us and the fact that we now have the greatest gift ever as a result.
The kindness of so many
I was never a part of the infertility world until Ross and I started trying but I will never forget the extreme kindness extended to me by so many. I am still a member of two of those groups. Groups where I see people trying, day after day, month after month to make sense of the reasons why they are not becoming parents. All the medical procedures and different therapies they try to get the precious gift that so many couples take for granted.
I will never forget that feeling of desperation, of longing and of feeling complete and utterly useless because my body wasn’t doing what came naturally to a woman. Something that my body had done once before in a dysfunctional situation but now, in a natural family environment, wasn’t.
I will never, ever forget how lucky I truly am to have been able to go through pregnancy twice and have two healthy children. Despite the fact that I am dealing with all the trials and tribulations that new babies and motherhood brings, I shall never take it for granted and will do my best to cherish every moment – even at 3am on just an hours sleep – because, how lucky am I to experience the unconditional love of my babies?