From October 2012 following the unsuccessful tubal catheterisation, I entered the lowest point in my entire life. The only option left for us, according to our consultant, was to go through IVF, which we couldn’t afford. We were left out on a limb, and were told to just call and make an appointment when we had the necessary funds. I wasn’t offered any kind of help, counselling or alternative options. I asked if there was a payment plan to spread the cost, but there wasn’t.
My mental health deteriorated as each day passed. As well as my nephew being born, John’s niece announced she was pregnant just before Christmas that year. By this point I was a shadow of my former self, unrecognisable as the happy, carefree person I used to be. I took everything personally. As each Facebook post appeared with scan photos and “feeling blessed” hashtags, I had to unfollow a few people, including John’s family so as my newsfeed wasn’t a rolling torture chamber. It didn’t matter though, as it seemed that friend after friend during that time were all announcing their own happy news. It was relentless.
Christmas was horrendous. I didn’t even put up a tree, just fashioned some fairy lights over a few decorative branches I had in my living room. The social media machine continued to churn out more happy baby stories as my own black cloud grew ever darker. John’s niece posted a picture of her baby bump on Facebook and tagged John in it which is why I saw it on my newsfeed (no mention of me), and I honestly felt like they were kicking me when I was down. After breaking down once again in front of John, they all unfriended me after that. All of his family turned their backs on me, and worse still, were sending me horrible messages saying they should be able to enjoy their pregnancy. I don’t know whether they just didn’t know how to deal with my situation, or they just didn’t care, but things have never been the same since.
My poor mum was also stuck in the middle. She was obviously over the moon at having a brand new grandson, but her heart was also breaking over me. I actually thought about suicide during that period, I just wanted to disappear. The thought of trying to live my life without a baby wasn’t an option. I refused to even consider adoption because I wanted my own baby. I should have sought help for my depression then, but I didn’t want to be put on antidepressants in case it interfered with getting pregnant (there was still a tiny bit of hope that it would still happen naturally).
New year, new start…
As 2013 began, three years after first trying for a baby, I did my best to pull myself out of the depression and try to see things clearly. I began a regular exercise routine and started to eat more healthily. I did further research into IVF treatments abroad. Belgium looked like a brilliant option (coincidentally where John’s daughter lives) – we could get three cycles there for the cost of one cycle here. I emailed the hospital and they replied with lots of information.
I was still considering alternative options for unblocking my fallopian tubes. I found a chinese therapy centre in Birmingham, and another clinic specialising in deep tubal massage. Both were quite costly at a couple of hundred pounds each, but still much cheaper than the IVF. I even started to wear the colour orange as it is the colour of fertilty. Desperation wasn’t the word.
At the start of that year one of my best friends announced she was pregnant. She told me via text message and I’m ashamed to say I exploded. I tapped out a furious message back, berating her for daring to do this to me at that moment. I didn’t even congratulate her. I absolutely hated myself, I didn’t know who I was anymore. Of course I apologised, and we’ve both cried over it since, and she said she would have felt exactly the same.
It was shortly after that that I left my job in the Civil Service after five years. I’m not sure if it was to do with needing a change, or just wanting something new to happen, but I suddenly became desperate to leave. I started my new job as a Deputy Care Home Manager in April that year, and it was a welcome change from constantly thinking about my infertility.
Around May time while I was researching, I came across a process online called ‘Egg Sharing’. It is basically a way of helping to pay for IVF treatment. I would get my treatment at a heavily subsidised price (around £800), and in return I would agree to share my eggs with an anonymous recipient. There were obviously very strict criteria I had to meet (a certain age, weight, non-smoker etc), but it was looking like our best option yet. And guess where they offered this treatment? That’s right – Birmingham Women’s Hospital! Astonishingly not one doctor had mentioned this to me during that entire time. I contacted the clinic and they got us an appointment for a few weeks later.
After the initial appointment of filling in all the forms and then having more blood tests (it’s a good job I don’t have a fear of needles), we were accepted onto the programme and were sent on an IVF seminar with loads of other couples. It involved being shown the process of IVF from start to finish. Although it was amazing to see how it all worked, it was also very scary. The concept of having to inject myself every day and then all the invasive procedures later on to collect the eggs etc filled me with dread. The room was absolutely packed with anxious would-be parents, and I just felt so bloody sad for all of us. Our consultant at the egg-sharing clinic also informed me that I would have to have counselling prior to commencing treatment as potentially I could have a child out there after donating my egg, who would legally be allowed to find me once they turned eighteen. There was also the awful possibility of my IVF not working, but the other person’s being successful. That was a situation I didn’t want to think about, I just wanted to start as soon as possible. Absolutely nothing would stop me now.
In June John asked me to marry him. It wasn’t a grand proposal (we were at home), but I was so happy. We had a few glasses of champagne and listened to all our favourite songs. Outside there was a supermoon (the largest moon of the year), and we went outside to drink a toast and to make a wish. You can guess what mine was.
The following month in July my best friend got married, and then my birthday was on the 15th. Both were joyous occasions with lots of alcohol involved, and for the first time in a long time I was feeling happy and optimistic. Finally things were moving forward, and I could see a light at the end of the very dark tunnel. But something was amiss – my period.
I left it for a few days as I had been late occasionally in the past, but as day five came with no sight of anything, I decided to do a test. I bought a cheap one from Poundland in haste and rushed home – IT WAS POSITIVE! Obviously I didn’t believe it and thought I was dreaming, so went straight back out to buy a more expensive one. It was still positive. WHAT?!
John was working nights that week so was fast asleep in the day, but I had to wake him up. He didn’t register at first, and thought he was dreaming aswell, so we sat down for ages just staring at the tests in front of us in complete and utter shock. As the news slowly sank in I can’t even say I was elated, it was a kind of scary, sick feeling and then panic – what if the tests are wrong? What if I have a miscarriage?
I made a doctor’s appointment and after doing another test, he confirmed I was pregnant. Even he was completely shocked, and put the odds of that happening at something like 10 million to 1. He told me not to get my hopes up though as, because of my history, there was a good chance that it was ectopic (a tubal pregnancy). He said that if I had any pain in either side of my uterus that I was to go straight to hospital.
We told our close family and friends who were all completely ecstatic, but a couple of weeks later I began to get a sharp, stabbing pain on my left side. John was actually away at the time up in York as his daughter was over from Belgium, so I called him in a panic. I drove myself to the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit at Birmingham Women’s Hospital in absolute floods of tears, prepared for the worst. They were so lovely there though and gave me an internal scan – they found a tiny heartbeat in my womb, the baby was fine! They also found a huge cyst on my left ovary though (very common in early pregnancy apparently), which was the cause of my pain. They told me that it would burst on its own and to take things easy.
I don’t think I took a breath until my 12 week scan. Every single day leading up to it I checked my knickers constantly for any sign of bleeding. I even carried a sanitary towel around in my bag, convinced that I was going to come on at any moment, and that this had all been a dream. I was so hormonal, crying at the drop of a hat and then flying off the handle at any tiny thing. I was feeling quite nauseous some days, and then nothing the next, which made me think that I wasn’t even pregnant. I frantically googled every little symptom, driving myself crazy. Even at the scan itself I couldn’t bring myself to look at the screen, convinced that there was nothing there. I just stared at John who was stood at the end of the bed – he gave me a beaming smile and a thumbs up – our little bean was there, jumping about as if to say, “Hi mummy and daddy, I’m here”!
A happy ending…
The rest they say, is history. Molly was born in March 2014 after a 25 hour labour. A healthy, beautiful baby girl who I fell in love with at first sight. No-one prepares you for that feeling, and I’ve never experienced anything else like it. Complete and utter bliss. I still couldn’t quite believe that she had arrived, against all the odds, and I think that because she was such a miracle my anxiety of something happening to her went through the roof. Despite that though, motherhood is wonderful. It is full of joyous moments, things I have daydreamed about so many times over the years. Even now I have to pinch myself sometimes when I look at her – she’s mine!
I will never, ever forget what I went through though, and it makes me so sad to think of the amount of people out there going through their own infertility hell at this very moment. The worst thing a few people said to me during that time was “just relax and don’t think about it” – as if that was even an option! For the record I conceived when I was at my most stressed, with pregnancy on my mind 24 hours a day, so that’s a load of bollocks anyway. What I do think helped though was exercising. Obviously I can’t say that that was why I finally caught, but it made coping with the infertility much easier – physically and mentally. The moon will always hold an extra special meaning for us all now…my wish came true! Molly is my little lunar miracle – and she is absolutely fascinated with the moon too.
I hope my story has helped in some way. And if you are going through it right now, my advice would be this – go easy on yourself; exercise; eat well; do your research; be honest with how you’re feeling; talk to someone when you feel like you can’t cope; don’t feel guilty if you can’t face being around a friend or family member’s baby; and remember to make time for eachother as a couple. I hope with all my heart that you get there.