Bear with me, this one is a long post, but it gives background to the whole reason for this damn blog in the first place and brings up topics that I’m likely to revisit in others!
So here it is…
After having been through a fair bit in the last four years, I finally decided that maybe the best thing, both for myself and hopefully for others, was to share what that has all been about…..
First off, I’m a lucky girl, and am not ashamed to admit it or be proud of it (slightly, in a very nice understated and humble way). I live a very nice life. I had a pretty awesome childhood, was spoilt but in a very positive way, went to a great school which I loved, met amazing friends, went to uni and met more amazing friends. Started climbing the career ladder from the bottom up, and worked at some amazing places that made me the Producer I am today. Met some more amazing and talented people, some of whom are my bestest of friends today. Don’t get me wrong, there has been a load of shit that goes along with all of that, but that’s another story! (n.b I love the word amazing!)
I was single at the wrong time ie my 30s! , or rather I hadn’t really found the person I wanted to settle down with, ha and my mum was starting to worry I would never find anyone to have a family with…. I also loved my career, although it has been brutal at times, but I’ve had some amazing experiences (some awful and stressful ones as well), so I just bumbled along… I never wanted to “settle”, and I am so glad that I went through all of that, because it means I married Dwighty (my husband, that’s not his first name btw). Despite the fact we actually sort of went to school together (well he’s a toyboy ;), we didn’t get together until 16 years later! He’s my soulmate, and I couldn’t have gone through all of this with anyone else….
So I come to the point of the drivvle above… I would never have settled, but not going to lie trying to be a mum in your mid to late 30s (40s!) is exhausting and no one tells you that that might be the case (even though you sort of know it). I mean cos I’m the lucky one right, so why would trying to have a baby be any different?? It should just happen, like everything else and to everyone else… Wrong…this is what happened, what I have learnt and what I am still learning… three failed IVF treatments, one natural pregnancy, and one miscarriage later….
Firstly, we have been very open with people we know about our journey, not everyone feels like that and that’s ok, it’s all a very personal choice.
I just felt that if I was going through this, and my life was going to change then it was easier if people know about it, saves telling a lot of white lies to hide what is going on…
So here it is and what I have learnt:
- It’s ok to have a career and meet the love of your life later in life.
- I wouldn’t have changed what I did up to the age of 33 for anything
- Some of those experiences people can only dream of, and that was my life.
- Meeting and committing to the man of your dreams in your 30s is actually one of the most grown up things I’ve ever done.
- Not saying that meeting someone in your 20s isn’t by the way….
- You just know what you want and what you don’t, you also play less games.
- I think Dwighty and I knew it was forever from our first date, and that isn’t an exaggeration. Ahhhh!
- We always knew we wanted a family
- we told each other on our first date over a lychee martini!
- and being the healthy, active and kind people that we are, we just thought that was a given…
- As we have discovered that’s not always the case…
- We started trying about 3 months after getting married (age 35)… I was already conscious of my age, and I knew it might not happen straight away, so hey why not crack on..
- We kept trying
- Less about the pee sticks just more sex.
- Friends kept having kids (whom I love to pieces btw).
- Doesn’t mean to say that when you see all your friends spawn out loads of kids between them and get pregnant by just thinking about it, it doesn’t make you feel a tinsy bit jealous and wish that was you…
- After a year we decided that we should go to the doctor and just make sure everything was ok, I mean nothings a given….
- Went to GP, various blood tests etc later, we were told that everything was normal and they couldn’t explain it. At that point we decided that IVF or at least some form of assisted reproduction might be the way forward, so we began the journey…
- The NHS were great (and are great believe me), but the wait times felt like forever, particularly for someone who doesn’t have time on their side as a geriatric mother! (that’s actually what they call you over 35! … please!….)
- We are very lucky that we could afford to, so we went private.
- More tests….
- The same tests…
- More tests…
- Hycosy – Checks the tubes are in working order by sticking a load of saline solution in your uterus.
- Intravaginal scans (repeatedly).
- Still “unexplained infertility”…
- So we go for it….
- Although some of my close friends have had difficulty conceiving, and some have had drugs to help them along, none of them have had IVF. It’s a strange old world and one that until you start talking about is a very mysterious one.
- Once you start saying “we are going through IVF”, it’s amazing who’s friend of a friend has been through it! Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes you are like “that’s great, but I’m not them”, and everyone has a different experience.
- It’s a confusing and scientifically baffling process…but an incredibly humbling and amazing one.
- Once you start becoming an amateur expert on fertility, you realise how f**king difficult it is to conceive, and how anyone actually gets pregnant naturally in the first place is amazing!
- Injecting yourself, carrying around syringes and popping pills at odd times of day becomes weirdly normal, and disappearing into a room at work, or the bathroom, you start to actually feel like a drug addict.
- You are a walking pharmacy.
- Blood tests are like buying a pint of milk from the shop, every other day you pop in and then carry on your day like nothing has happened
- Our first round, although bizarre and slightly surreal, was a fairly straight forward process.
- I responded well to stimulation and we collected 9 eggs, 4 of which fertilised.
- We had one put back in. Seeing your embryos up on a screen, and having to identify them as yours is bizarre but kind of cool at the same time!
- That could be your baby and to all intents of purposes I kind of think it is, even though it’s just a collection of cells.
- You have the dreaded two week wait…
- It didn’t implant.
- Back to square one.
- We always knew IVF was never a given, but you do kind of hope it will just happen the first time… I mean I’m lucky right.
- 4 months later… we go again… same clinic, same process. Although I have to say I wasn’t in love with my consultant’s bedside manner, you just trust they know what they are doing and I trusted them.
- Blood tests, scans, blood tests, scans, injections, more injections.
- I was lucky in some respects in that the drugs didn’t affect me too badly (although you would have to ask Dwighty about that ;)!)
- Collection, yeah eggs! Fertilisation, yeah 3! One goes back in…on our wedding anniversary! Must be a good omen…
- One of the worst experiences of my life…
- During transfer they “lost” the embryo … Never heard of that?… neither had we and neither had a million other people that we spoke to after it happened… and neither really had the consultant, we were that 1% of cases that something happens to… they had transferred through the catheter (after having a done a practice round, which they must must do), the consultant was having difficulty getting the catheter through (I have a retroverted uterus which although makes it a little more tricky, is not unusual and should never be a problem). SO she decides to change catheter….
- Catheter and embryo go back to the lab… whilst I’m lying legs akimbo on the bed with a speculum in and Dwighty holding my hand (looking like something out of ER with his scrubs, and hair net on!)….
- 10 mins…
- 15 mins…
- Finally the lovely nurse decides to make me more comfortable, i.e take that bloody thing out of my vagina!
- Consultant comes back in… now when she first said this we couldn’t quite believe what she was saying… they had LOST the embryo when they went to change catheter… what this means is that when they went to flush the catheter out, the embryo wasn’t there, which means it must be in my uterus but they can’t confirm… in theory there is no other place it can be, but it won’t have been in the optimum place.
- We were in shock, and our after care was pretty shocking… we sort of just walked out in a daze (my mum was there too bless her). One minute we were hoping for our second chance and the next…
- After about 24 hours I then got really angry. How could this happen?! So we started complaining and trying to understand what went wrong.
- The consultant just said these things can happen and that was it.
- We changed consultants, we just felt so let down and there is no way we could trust her again.
- More friends are having babies.
- Younger friends are having babies.
- Luckily an amazing nurse there recommended another clinic, a bit controversial, but bloody hell we didn’t care….
- More tests, blood tests, scans….
- But this place was something else, a step up from where we had been, purely in terms of the intense nature of the treatment and feeling like they are throwing everything at you to make it happen.
- I started having immunology tests, to test my natural killer cells. Apparently my Cytokines (which are chemical messengers in the blood) have a tendency to elevate and I was given drugs to “normalise” my levels and after two rounds of HUMIRA (bizarrely an arthritic drug that does this), we were ready to go.
- Getting up every day at 6am, to be in Harley St for 7.30 for blood tests every day…
- Having your phone on in every meeting at work, ready to take your instruction for drugs that day, going back 2 hours later for more tests or another scan.
- Waking up at 5am to do another injection before the other 4 you have to do that day…
- Injecting in the meeting room.
- But again I responded (not as well as the first two but I responded), we collected 3 eggs and one fertilised.
- The consultants were amazing, if a little robotic, it’s a little like a deli counter in there, you are a bit of a number, but if it gets results hey who cares…
- Having said that, there is one nurse there whom I trust implicitly and she is amazing at looking out for us. I think sometimes you just click with people…
- Transfer was a dream (anything compared to last time)… And we wait…
- Anyone will know that has done it, that that 2 week wait is the longest two weeks of your life…
- The morning of the blood test we walk for three hours, have breakfast, wait for the phonecall.
- 3 rounds and nothing… surely third time should have been lucky right…
- Well 4th time lucky was our new mantra
- 3 rounds of IVF in 18 months…
- All of the above was happening whilst I was working my arse off, with amazing support from friends, family and work, but anyone who works in advertising/ production knows that it is pretty relentless, unforgiving, long unsociable hours and stressful (despite being fun!)
- I work hard, always have, can’t not commit 150% all the time…and although people say that you should just be relaxed when you are doing IVF or trying for a baby, are they F**king kidding! I mean you try but…
- Although I have realised what it can do and that I have been stressed at periods over the years, and I know what people say about stress and pregnancy, we kind of realised that we had been doing everything possible to make the treatment work and it wasn’t. Something had to change.
- It was one of the most difficult and yet one of the easiest decisions I have ever made. I needed to try and eliminate any factor that was being detrimental to the process. So…
- I quit my job.
- Although it was hard, I knew that after 17 years of working tirelessly I hoped I had established myself enough for it not to make any difference when I decide to go back…for once I had to put my personal life first and the time was right. I felt burnt out, both from the intensity of my job and everything we had been going through.
- It helps if you have amazing support, Dwighty didn’t have to think twice about it, as he says “you just make it work”.
- Lots of things go through your head during this process… you start to doubt yourself/ blame yourself. It must be me, I must be the thing that’s wrong (even if it’s unexplained), why is my body doing this to me?, why won’t it work? You feel a failure even when everyone is telling you how amazing you are.
- So for the last 7 months I have been having time off…
- Having time off has been one of the most liberating and incredible things I have ever done.
- For once I wasn’t trying to juggle a million things at once
- I could concentrate on just looking after Dwighty and I.
- Most people were really supportive of the decision, I did have a few people say but won’t that make it more stressful that that is all you are thinking about and you won’t have anything to take your mind off it?
- I can tell you ABSOLUTELY NOT!
- For the first time in a long time I have put me first.
- Last year we had a personal trainer for a bit, and he does this amazing semi private training, so I started doing that three times a week (not as expensive as you think!)… I started to feel like my old self (I have always been super sporty)… Never had the time or couldn’t find the time to go to the gym/ train at work.
- We have never “eaten badly”, but because I had the time, we started eating even better! I love cooking, but I never did it, cos I used to get home at silly o’clock and my fab husband was always there with dinner for me!
- I started changing just a few things, eating the things we always had, but finding substitutes for others… making my own protein bars (I know seriously who am I??!!!!)… I am just finding it really fun finding these things out, experimenting and coming up with some delights (and a few disasters…. Btw not everything tastes as good as the pictures).
- I also spent more time with my family, seeing my mum for coffee and babysitting nieces and nephews, just being “around” or “present” (!)… not checking my phone every five seconds, or “just taking a call” that lasts 45 minutes while everyone has finished their dinner and are onto dessert.
- Three months almost to the day after this kickstarter… we were gearing up for another treatment (4th). I had to do Humira again, twice. (which is essentially a 6 week process, 2 injections, 2 weeks apart and then a 3 week wait for blood test and 4 days for results!)
- That week I was waiting to come on, ready to start feeling like a human pin cushion again and…
- WE FELL PREGNANT!!!!! NATURALLY!!!
- A get away weekend to the awesome San sebastian did it we think?!!!
- Yup will repeat that…. WE FELL PREGNANT!!!!! NATURALLY!!!
- I woke up, being three days late, and just thought I’ve got a test in the bathroom, might as well just see. Three positive home tests later (digital and non digital) and a blood test at my clinic, I finally believed it.
- We were in shock, complete and utter shock, but elation at the same time… how could this have happened?
- Then, by the way, you get a lot of people saying… oh yeah this happens all the time, you often find people having gone through IVF get pregnant naturally… well when it hasn’t ever happened for you, those stories are great, but you kind of want to tell people to p*ss off… this isn’t normal, because it’s never happened TO ME!
- You can imagine what the family was like, especially the mums, people were so delighted for us, but worrying nonetheless, trying not to get ahead of themselves.
- It took a few days to sink in, but the realisation that we had fallen pregnant, that an embryo had implanted and that this was happening, was just the best news… (I was worried that implantation was my next issue).
- But… it’s us right… the “unluckiest conceivers in the world”……..
- When you are in IVF, they scan you VERY early, like at 4 weeks…. And they expect to see a gestational sac. My hormone (HCG) levels were very high, and they thought I should be further along…but my periods are very regular, so I said couldn’t be.
- Having IVF and becoming knowledgeable about conception is great, but you also become far too aware of science, hormone levels etc etc. We know detail that anyone who falls pregnant naturally will never ever know about and would never doubt… sometimes it does your bloody head in!
- The next rollercoaster began…
- For the next week we were diagnosed with a “PUL” (yup new term!) – a pregnancy of unknown location no less… they couldn’t find the blighter anywhere!
- New worries about Ectopic pregnancy (could l lose a tube if that was to happen, god what would that do for our chances either way??!)
- A night in A&E. Not that I had any symptoms of ectopic or miscarriage but the anxiety over what was happening was all consuming, we just wanted to see a doctor…
- CHRIST ALIVE!
- By this point we had been referred by our clinic to our local EGU (Early Pregnancy Unit) at Whipps Cross (we are east!)… and we had seen them three times during that week..more blood tests and scans. Of course!
- Four consultants later, an amazing consultant steps into our lives. She finally finds a gestational sac, we are now 5.5/ 6 weeks pregnant…. Another wave of relief, it’s in the right place, it’s there, she can even tell us where it implanted!
- Yup another one…
- It is very small for the stage that it should be at…. Having discussed all of our history with her, her advice is wait. Wait 2/3 weeks and see how it progresses… what ‘s the harm, we have waited this long and it could happen….. not to give false hope in anyway but it could.
- We will take that..
- So we wait…
- And wait…
- It’s a nice relief not to have blood tests or have various people looking at my vagina for 2 weeks I tell you…. Although you do sort of become immune to it….
- Deep down I knew it wasn’t happening… from the day we saw her, I then started to bleed, but only a little, so then the confusion of whether this is “normal early pregnancy bleeding” and everyone you talk to, says oh yeah I had a bit of that don’t worry…. But I just knew…. It’s so hard, you want to be positive, but when all you’ve had is disappointment you just protect yourself… also as everyone says “you just know”.
- We go back for our scan, and she confirms that we have a “possible failing pregnancy”.
- Because I’ve been on supportive IVF drugs to support the baby, she says to stop and hopefully this will cause the pregnancy “to pass” naturally…
- Sure enough three days later…. It happened.
- Not going to lie, it was not pretty, and sitting on a loo, crying, realising what is happening, is not fun.
- You go through emotions of what could have been, to thank god that it is over, to do I have to go through all this again? You are wiped out.
- BUT…. I’m lucky…… it could have been a lot worse, and although in no way am I trivialising this, I had sort of come to terms with what was happening before it happened.
- We have to be positive….
- It’s Bloody hard though…. Sometimes you just want to cry and be really angry…
- People are still telling you you are amazing and brave and that if anyone deserves a baby then it’s you.
- They are right, we do deserve this… but I don’t feel amazing and brave.
- I don’t want to be amazing and brave… I want to be a mum.
- So we are being positive…. We never thought we would fall pregnant naturally and we did, we really did, and I put all of that down to me putting me first for a change, I have no doubt. It implanted, so that can happen. And I miscarried naturally, didn’t have to have help or another bloody procedure, my body was doing the right thing for me and for the baby… it wasn’t meant to be.
- So here we go again…….
- Our NHS consultant was so positive for us and really believes that it will happen, and for the first time since all this started I actually think I believe it too…
- There is still that protective shield, of course, that’s just self-preservation…. But hey come on if anyone deserves this we do.
- We are “lucky” and…
- I’m just trying to be a mum.
PS. Believe me, I know that there are amazing couples out there that have been through many more cycles of IVF than we have, but this is just my experience to date and one I wanted to share.
4 thoughts on “The story so far…”
This is a high quality blog Keels. I presume and hope it’s been liberating as well as cathartic for you. I’m sure it will be for plenty of others that come across it whilst facing similar challenges. Looking forward to the next one, whilst obviously rooting for the most positive of outcomes. Go team Dwighty ❤️
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Thanks PV! It definitely has, and the response has been rather overwhelming, but in a very positive way! xx
When I first starting blogging (many moons ago) I spent a lot of time reading blogs about infertility and the struggles faced. You most definitely aren’t alone but you are so right in that infertility, IVF and miscarriages are all things that very few people talk about openly, even with their closest friends. It’s a brave thing to put it all out there but hopefully your story will help others to share more openly as well. Of the blogs I read back in the day, all of them ended in successful pregnancies and happy endings so I am sending ‘little human’ vibes in your direction and I look forward to reading good news in the future.
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Thanks so much for the message lovely. Any “little human” vibes, much appreciated! k x