This is the post I truly hoped I would be able to write and a major reason why my blog has been at a standstill is because I’ve had to focus my time, energy and heart elsewhere.
I knew in my heart that unless I could write this post from a positive perspective, I personally, couldn’t write about my experience. I don’t care if that make me a coward but it would be too painful to go there publicly and in a way, I wanted to be that positive story in an overwhelming sea of negativity, that might give anyone going through a similar experience, hope and maybe some things to try which may help.
Out of respect for you as a reader, I’m going to start at the pot of gold ending, in the hope that you’ll have the patience to read this post from beginning to end, safe in the knowledge, my wish was granted.
Since my last post, some absolute wonderfulness has happened and I’m now a proud mum to a beautiful baby boy.
It really feels like it’s taken a lifetime for me to get to this point, winning the lotto could not compare to this feeling and although this post may be about my journey, I truly hope that this is shared positively, especially if you have someone in your life who is affected by infertility. My motivation is purely so that it can help other women out there in some way. No aspect of this post is sponsored and I’m certainly not a medical expert all I’m simply doing is sharing my experience.
So, here’s the thing, I’m a forty something actually, let’s quit the coyness, I’m 40 effing 3, that’s right 43 and a first time mum.
For one reason or other, although I’ve always wanted children, it never seemed to be the right time, largely due to not finding Mr Right until later in life and also because I was simply and un-apologetically living MY life.
I’ve been lucky enough to have travelled, indulged my hedonistic tendencies by blooming partying like it’s 1999 – for what seemed like an eternity and although my birth certificate may say born in 1976, I consider myself young at heart.
So back in 2011/12, I experienced severe abdominal pains on my right side and following an transvaginal scan, was told I’d got an ovarian cyst. At that point I made peace with myself that, although, I could accept that there might not be a Mr Right out there for me, not having children was NOT part of my plan and decided when the time was right, if need be, I’d go to a sperm bank. As flippant as it now sounds, I was prepared to go it alone (to anyone that does parent solo, you have my absolute respect for all that you do) and as I said previously, made total peace with the fact that I was going to be forever a single gal but decided to temporarily park those maternal feelings until I was ready and just enjoy the freedom that life as a single woman brings.
I’d heard that saying a gazillion times, “Love finds you when you’re not looking for it’ and quite frankly thought it was a load of old bull, that was of course, until it happened to me.
That is, as they say, another story and for the purpose of not turning this post into a dissertation, not something I’m going to go into now. The only thing I will say and the advice I give my single friends is, don’t ever be afraid to invest in YOU! Just enjoy being single, switch up the focus to yourself and STOP focusing on needing to meet ‘the one’. Just enjoy the freedom that being single brings as you never know what might happen. I know it sounds easier said than done but take the brakes off yourself, sod pressure from others, NEVER just settle and DON’T apologise for being single. There’s no shame in being single and as a sisterhood, we just need to stop making people feel they need to apologise for not having a plus one, let’s just be cool with people being their own blooming plus one!
Ok, so I digress, let’s fast forward to 2017, my partner and I had been trying for 12 months and still no baby. I’d previously been on the contraceptive pill and my periods had returned with no problems and I naively, didn’t think anything could be wrong until I started experiencing lower abdominal pains and admittedly, it was then that I started to think that maybe time wasn’t on my side and maybe there was something really wrong.
To cut a massively long story to just a long story (those that know me know that this was no short story), following a further investigatory scan, I was told that I had fluid in one of my tubes and that this was not normal and that I would need a laparoscopy. However, I was then referred to another doctor who felt that a laparoscopy was not needed and suspected an infection and took swabs and prescribed antibiotics.
As it transpired my swabs came back clear of infection and I was advised that if I wanted to conceive, conception was advised sooner rather than later.
Following an awful experience with my own GP and being told some conflicting information, I was eventually fortunate enough to see a lovely kind, understanding and considerate Doctor who referred me to a fertility clinic for further investigation.
At the clinic, I was told that it was likely that one or both of my tubes were blocked which would almost certainly hinder any chances of conception and I was advised that they would conduct some fertility testing via blood tests and I would be booked in for a Laparoscopy. This is a procedure where under general anaesthetic, they insert a camera via your belly button and have a good mooch around. During this process, they advised that they would also insert dye into my Fallopian tubes to see the extent of any blockages.
At this point, I was stunned and total and utter fear set in. The only way I can describe how I felt at that time was that I was dead behind the eyes. I felt angry at my body, my age and angry at myself for leaving it ‘so late’. I felt heartbroken that I’d potentially missed my chance of being a mother and felt that time was rapidly running out. A whole whirlwind of emotions consumed me, would my partner leave me? All I’d wanted was simply to be a mum, what would do if I couldn’t t be a mum?
The fear of not being a mum consumed my every waking thought. I managed to style it out at work as I was selective about who knew and when asked asked having kids had almost scripted responses. Those days though were dark as the mind wanders and as I had to wait for my procedure date, I knew I needed to try and take a hold of my anxiousness and focus my mind in a positive way.
A friend mentioned a book called The Magic by Rhonda Byrne and I managed to get copy. Now, I know self-help books can be seen as self-indulgent but this book truly helped me focus my mind in the months leading up to the laparoscopy. The gratitude exercises helped me feel in control so that the sheer worry/fear of the unknown didn’t consume me. Being able to channel my worries and fears in a positive way, helped ME take control and not the other way around.
So, let’s fast forward, again, a couple of months to the day of the laparoscopy and although terrified of the outcome, I was ready to find out what was going on. Once the anaesthetic wore off, the doctor who performed the procedure, came to see me and showed me the findings in photographic form (it’s not easy looking at pics of your insides). It was good news, my tubes weren’t blocked and the dye had gone straight through. Although one of my tubes had a divicular swelling, there were no lesions or blockages in my tubes. This was literally the best Christmas news that I could have wished for almost like a little bit of Christmas magic.
Just after New Year 2018, I was back at the fertility clinic for a follow up appointment to discuss my blood tests and sample tests my partner had given. My partners results were fine and I was told that although my progesterone level was good, my FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) was, they deemed, a little high at 10.9 and this could be a contributing towards why I struggling to conceive. I was then told, that if I didn’t conceive in 6 months to come back and it would be straight to IVF for me, due to my age and then given a pamphlet, with the costs of IVF circled (my age and postcode meant that we would need to self-fund any rounds of IVF). Now here’s the thing and I want to be clear, I am not opposed to IVF, I think it’s an incredible advancement in medical science and has given people the opportunity to conceive but for me, there were no guarantees and there was this little voice inside me saying, explore other options.
So, off I went and looked firstly, what could possibly improve my FSH levels and stumbled across a book called The Fertility Diet by Sarah Dobbyn. This is a really positive book and gives a plethora of brilliant advice about which foods can increase your chances of conception and amongst other things help with improving egg quality.
Admittedly, I didn’t go for a complete dietary overhaul, I would still have my routine daily Freddo chocolate at lunch and my packet of crisps but I made sure I ate more fertility friendly foods.
Then I started to look at managing my stress levels and reducing stress via holistic therapies. So I booked acupuncture sessions and then following on from this, one of my besties referred me to her friend who I had reflexology, black box and a fertility massage with. Mentally for me, this was a game changer as not only was the lady I met a kindred spirit, her healing hands made me release and let go of pent up emotions related to the grief I had experienced as a child. I guess, from an early age I always had that cup half full mentality but at the same time had unknowingly pushed any feelings of anger to one side. I felt that not only had I lost my mum, I was being punished because I couldn’t be a mum.
I’m fully aware that holistic therapies aren’t everyone’s bag but personally, this really helped me and I’ll be forever grateful to Shona for the all the hugs she gave and extra free time, she invested in me by listening and working her healing hands on me.
So then, whilst trawling the internet, I randomly read on Pinterest something about fluoride in toothpaste affecting fertility, so I switched my regular toothpaste to Arm & Hammers Simply Natural toothpaste. Following on from this. I’d ran out of my usual deodorant and started using Dove for Men roll on deodorant. I know how it sounds but these are the changes I made and whether they contributed or not, I’m mentioning them and not missing anything out because it could be the simplest thing that helps someone.
By July 2018, another bestie mentioned that she had seen a blog post by Luisa Zissman on fertility and supplements she’d taken and after reading her post, I thought what have I got to lose, so bought some PureClinica High Absorption CoQ10 and Zita West’s VitalDHA supplements’ from Amazon and proceeded to take one each a day along with Superdrug’s Folic Acid and Vitamin D.
In July, I was also told about a sensor called Ovusense by a friend who had used it & credited it with helping her take control of her ovulation. I briefly looked at the website and kind of bookmarked it in my brain until after our holiday and then found myself revisiting their website and decided, I have nothing to lose and paid around £79 for the sensor kit and signed up for the subscription which was an additional £20 per month. I didn’t really know what to expect to be honest and was more paranoid about whether I’d get toxic shock syndrome from using it. You basically insert the sperm like sensor into your vagina before you go to sleep and this takes readings of your temperature throughout the night and from this, accurately predicts when you’re due to ovulate and whether you’ve ovulated. This amazing little piece of kit was a game changer for me as I realised that I’d been working my most fertile days out incorrectly. The beauty of this is that it gives actual readings and helps prevent sex becoming just about making a baby – which trust me, does start to happen.
I started using the supplements and sensor in August 2018 and got my positive test on 2nd/3rd (that’s another story) November and so began my pregnancy journey.
So there it is, my positive infertility story.
Before I click post, I just really wanted to say a heartfelt thank you to the strong, brave, and utterly badass women in my life who were all there for me when I was in total despair, not knowing if my dreams of becoming a mum would ever happen. You are without doubt, the most wonderful, loyal, considerate & kindest friends, I could ever ask for and I’m so grateful that you never gave up hope even when at times, I was consumed with sheer desperation and fear. These women didn’t just wish for my dream to come true, they reassured me not to give up hope and steadied me when I wobbled after the constant disappointment of yet another period.
This post is dedicated to you, RA, SC, TB, Happiness, EA and SB,
Thank you & love ya XX