Infertility sucks. It really does. It’s a claustrophobic, lonely place to be. Many of us don’t feel as though we can speak out or confide in our friends and family. I got to the point where I felt it was all I spoke about. My poor mum, ear bashed on the phone for hours each week. It got to the point where I was even boring myself.
When we first started trying for a baby I assumed we’d be lucky straight away. After all, you spend most of your adult life trying not to get pregnant, because it’s that easy. You come off the pill; you get lucky in the first month. It happens to everybody! I became downhearted and impatient very quickly, and as the months passed by, I was getting more and more monumentally annoyed. It was now clear for whatever reason, things were not happening.
Each month was an emotional roller coaster and it always followed the same pattern. At the end of my period I’d be sure the coming month was the month. Ah, the hope. The window of fertility would suddenly arrive, and the pressure was on. That pressure grew every month and in the end, we both came to dread that time.
Once the fertile window had passed we’d feel both feel a sense of relief, and on a good month (i.e. lots of action!) we’d feel quietly hopeful again. I paid acute attention to every stomach twinge: Implantation pain? It must be…! I was glued to Google search, but the messages were so confusing. It seemed one woman’s early pregnancy symptom was another woman’s false hope. I realised quickly that until you see that positive test, you just couldn’t second-guess it. You find yourself getting a little obsessed, even in despite of yourself. And then, when your period is two days late, you’re convinced you’ve done it. This is it! But the dream would come cruelly crashing down by the arrival of a period, or a negative test, and I’d feel completely hopeless yet again. A little more so with each month that would pass.
I sought out information, tools and products that offered hope. I downloaded an ovulation tracker app, and we purchased the very expensive monitor – the one you plug those (very expensive) sticks into. That stupid machine, it never did give me the smiley face to indicate ovulation. I couldn’t afford the forty pound each month to replace the sticks either. I hated that thing. We bought three or four Stork Kits in the hope that a bit of turkey basting might be the answer. No joy (in more ways than one). I felt even more distressed when the things that promised to help, failed, making me feel even more hopeless an incapable. We were running out of ideas.
A year into trying (failing), we decided to go to the GP and the tests began. It was a rocky ride. I had my day 4 blood test results read to me over the phone by one of the secretaries at the surgery, which I actually think was against the rules in any case. The results were interpreted on the basis of day 21 by mistake, so I appeared to be completely infertile, and believed that to be the case until the GP confirmed the error in a follow-up call. Jamie’s semen analysis had to be re-done as the first sample was collected in a pot with the wrong lid on it… It was a stressful start.
I was sent for a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) or, to you and I, a tube dye test. This test checks and clears any blockages causing potential problems. If you’re about to have one of these, you will no doubt Google, read and hear the stories that I did – that basically, SO many get pregnant in the three months following the HSG. It was almost a given. The three months that passed following that test were especially hurtful, I STILL wasn’t pregnant. THAT wasn’t our solution. I became angry with my body. Why wouldn’t it, couldn’t it do what was supposedly the most natural thing in the world?
The final nail in the coffin, the one that sent us down the IVF route was an incorrect AMH result, one that indicated I had only a few eggs left. It was that last result that prompted us to remortgage and put ourselves under financial strain in attempt to achieve our dream of a family.
We researched our clinic carefully, and during our first round of tests, we were finally classed as ‘unexplained’. My AMH was retested there, and in the end, a completely normal 21.6 instead of a fairly low 6.8. If you’re reading this, and are about to have the AMH test, be aware that depending on where you test, the results can differ. Nuffield told us this was because of the different databases that are used to interpret the result. It basically depends where your test is sent.
The conclusion of our private exploratory test was ‘unexplained’. I’m not sure if it was a relief or not to be given that label – how do they then know what they are dealing with, if there isn’t a specific issue?
Nevertheless, finally, we had a plan of action. Cue the stories of how we’d now magically get pregnant before treatment. ‘Oh, you’ll find it’ll happen naturally now, now the pressure is off! Happened to a friend of mine…’ It always happens to a friend of a friend. These people are everywhere. After all, the entire world and his dog were reproducing successfully, and with complete ease. Pregnant bumps wherever I went. Facebook feeds littered with bump photos, baby scans, and new arrivals…
We set up The Jellie Diaries vlog to document our journey. I wanted to break the silence over the taboo that is infertility, and by doing so, I realised just how many people are in the same boat, and how common it is to struggle to conceive. You may think the journey is easier for everybody else, but look a little closer, share a little more, and you will soon realise that there are so many of us fighting for our chance to have our own families.
Even if you don’t want to be as open as we’ve been, there is a huge network of support out there, of which you can engage in at whatever level you feel comfortable with. Social media needn’t make you feel left behind or shut out in the cold. There are people living and sharing your journey right now. We are starting our next cycle in 1st July and will be vlogging each step as we go so come and join us over at @JellieDiary on Facebook. If you want some support, then join our closed Facebook group, A Place To Chat About IVF. Who knows? Perhaps it might help make the world seem a little less lonely.
Photography by: Perfocal Photography