Who knew getting pregnant was so hard? I certainly didn’t. Well, I knew it was for some people, but not for me. When we decided to start trying for a baby four years ago I crossed my fingers and hoped everything worked properly. It’s a funny thing, your whole adult life you concentrate all your efforts on not getting pregnant and then when you want to you hope you actually can.
However, I need not have worried, much to my surprise and joy we fell pregnant the first month we tried. I was so relieved that the thing I wanted more than anything, to be a mother, was going to come easily to me. So, naturally, after our son celebrated his second birthday and we decided we were ready to have another child I expected a similar scenario.
This time, however, things didn’t go quite as smoothly. This time I would come to learn just how hard it can be to make, and keep, a baby.
The first month it didn’t happen I laughed and realised it was too much to expect. The second month I was disappointed but not concerned. The third month I was impatient and frustrated. By the fifth month I was worried. I made an appointment with an OBGYN and was promptly told to relax, be patient and come back if I was still waiting in five months time. I replied dramatically that if I was not pregnant in five months time I would die. Clearly it was not an outcome I was anticipating.
So I decided to get serious. I spent hours on sites like Essential Baby, researching conception. Who knew there was so much information dedicated to the subject? In hindsight though, I wish I’d stayed blissfully naive, because it was a whole lot more fun not knowing it all. From temperature charting, cycle monitoring, ovulation predictor sticks, blood tests and sex on demand, it really does take all the fun out of baby making.
We are over the moon, particularly Jamison who tells everyone he meets that Mummy has a baby in her tummy!
I was told many, many, times to relax, to stop stressing about it and it would happen. But, as much as I knew the stress was having a negative impact on my body, I couldn’t suddenly stop wanting it, stop being upset about it. It’s a vicious cycle, you get stressed because you can’t get pregnant and then you can’t get pregnant because you’re stressed.
However, finally, after eight months of trying I fell pregnant. I was over the moon and felt that maybe everyone was right and everything did ‘happen for a reason.’ Two weeks later I had my first miscarriage. Suddenly everything ‘happening for a reason’ seemed very hard to understand.
That was a year ago and the last 12 months have been completely consumed with trying to conceive followed by endless disappointment, of short lived joy at another pregnancy and heartbreaking sorrow at yet another miscarriage.
And through it all, the hardest thing to deal with was that I was completely, utterly, helplessly, infuriatingly out of control.
With most things in life there is a reward for effort, the harder you try the better things go for you, but not in this case. With infertility you feel like a failure no matter how hard you try. And I did everything right. I read everything I could on the subject. I gave up coffee and alcohol and kept a healthy diet. I took vitamins and Chinese herbs. I did acupuncture and massage. I went on a holiday. I de-stressed. I thought positive thoughts. I prayed.
But the fact remained that there was nothing I could do to change the situation. No way I could take charge and fix it. No simple solution, no magic pill. I couldn’t even protect the babies whose lives I so desperately wanted. Even their fate was out of my control.
Yet through all of this I was surprised by how quiet we are as a society on the subject, particularly miscarriage. It seems crazy, us women talk about pretty much anything else, but this topic remains shrouded in silence. I wonder if it’s because we keep our pregnancies secret for the first trimester, so when a miscarriage occurs within that time (which the vast majority do) we keep that a secret too. But, for me, keeping it a secret made me feel as though it was something I had to be ashamed of. A failure I had to hide. It felt as though I had to be stoic and ‘get on with things.’ So I did. I kept busy, I didn’t cry after the first day, I threw myself into my work, stayed strong and outwardly seemed like I was ok. But grief has to come out eventually, as I discovered when it came flooding out in a moment I didn’t expect.
I think part of me felt like I didn’t have a right to be that upset, after all I was only 6 weeks along. It’s not like losing a baby at 20 weeks plus, which is literally the death of a child. But as a counsellor later told me, a loss is a loss. Whether you are pregnant for 2 days, 6 weeks or 20 weeks you are losing the promise of a life. Obviously the longer you have to bond with your baby and plan their life the more devastating the impact will be. But that doesn’t mean an early loss isn’t painful. It doesn’t matter how many centimetres long the embryo is, it matters how much you wanted it, how loved it was.
So why then, when we lose something we wanted and loved that much, should we keep our grief a secret? Why do we feel like we have to stay strong and get on with things?
Even the response of some people I shared my news with was to place the emphasis on moving on and not wallowing in it. A tip for those who are put in this situation and don’t know what to say, “It wasn’t meant to be,” “It was natures way,” “At least you have another child” or “You can try again” are all options you should stay well away from. They are not helpful. A simple “I’m sorry” is.
I guess one of the positives to come out of this is that I have learnt you never know what is going on in people’s lives. They might seem like they have it all but behind closed doors it may be a very different story. When I shared my news with friends many of them surprised me by offering their own stories of infertility and loss, giving me an insight and understanding to them I never would have had, had I not shared of myself. I will also never again ask someone if and when they are having children, I’ve realised it is none of my business!
But, this story does have a happy ending.
I am thrilled to announce that I am now 12 weeks pregnant with our much longed for second child. Phil, Jamison and I are over the moon, particularly Jamison who tells everyone he meets that Mummy has a baby in her tummy!
It has not been an easy few months though. There was no joy at the positive test this time, just hesitant, cautious, reserved hope. Every day was nerve-wracking, every follow up test and scan was terrifying. But slowly, surely, the days ticked by and I let myself grow a little more positive with each passing one.
A statistic given to me by my doctor was very comforting. She told me that if everything was normal at the 8 week scan you have a 95% chance of delivering a live baby, at the 10 week scan this goes up to 99%. Knowing this I don’t know why 8 week scans are not more routine, but if you have suffered through an early miscarriage before enquire about getting one, rather than waiting the standard 12 weeks.
Through all of this process I spent a lot of time on forums, chatting with other women who were going through the same thing. I found being able to anonymously share my feelings was incredibly helpful and the support offered to me by the other members was amazing. It definitely helped me get through some of the darker days.
I know there are many of you reading this now who are desperately trying to conceive a child, who are going through IVF, praying for an egg donor, trying to adopt or suffering through the heartbreak of miscarriage. I know each one of you feel like you have absolutely no control over your own life and my heart goes out to you. It is not an easy journey but, now that I am on the other side, I know I am a much stronger person for it. And when I finally have that precious baby in my arms I will appreciate him or her even more for it.
I never thought this would be my story, but I wanted to share it in order to lift that veil of secrecy and bring it out into the open. There is NOTHING to be ashamed of and it’s only through talking about it that we realise how many of our friends, colleagues and family members have been through the same thing. So please share your story with us, and hopefully it will be as cathartic for you as writing this has been for me!
I will be on holidays now until early January, when I will be back to share with you the rest of my pregnancy and experiences of bringing a second baby into our family. There will be plenty to talk about I’m sure!! Have a great Christmas everyone, stay safe and be merry! Amity x
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