Reading between the lines

Infertility – it’s a term that has become a buzzword in the media – ticking clocks, career over family, women leaving it too late, freezing eggs for later use, etc. Yet, it remains a taboo subject amongst families and friends. Something whispered about like some disease, something too awful to fathom. I felt reluctant to write this post and even more reluctant to press that ‘publish’ button.

Very few people think they are going to have to deal with infertility, a lot of us had some panic ‘what if I’m pregnant’ moments in our 20’s and even 30’s. I remember the absolute relief when my late period arrived because there was no way I was chancing taking a pregnancy test in case it was positive – strange logic but it made sense in my head!

Roll on a few years, newly married, and everyone around you is having a baby or many babies – my career choice probably doesn’t help there. You are trying to give the impression that you are enjoying life too much to have time for babies whilst desperately hoping this month will be the one where that the blue line will appear (on one of those many pregnancy tests stocked in the ensuite cupboard that no houseguest will ever happen upon).

What to do when you are sitting there 6 months, a year or 2 years later trying to put a brave face on when you hear of yet another joyful pregnancy announcement? You have googled fertility supplements, signs of ovulation, how long to wait before seeking help. You have sought alternative help – you name it – reflexology, acupuncture, homeopathy, etc. You then see your gp and then a fertility specialist to see if you can take some drugs to help things along. Blood tests, scans, more tests. You spend a colossal amount of money long before you are confronted with the dreaded term IVF. Not to mention holidays, weekends away, nights out to make it look like you are having the time of your lives on this extended honeymoon you are looking like you are enjoying.

IVF. In Vitro Fertilisation. What my mother and her generation still refer to as ‘test tube babies’ – images of a lab full of babies in test tubes comes to mind. The reality is far from this, it’s a long haul to get to the embryos in a lab stage. You learn all about hormone levels, follicles, uterine lining, egg retrieval, embryo development – I swear you turn into an actual scientist. You think it’s normal to be mixing up drugs to inject into your stomach while trying to keep your stash hidden from visitors in the bottom of your fridge covered in broccoli or something. Even as a midwife, I found starting the injections awful but it’s amazing how it all becomes normal after just a couple of days. You tell yourself it will just take one go. What they don’t always tell you is that the first go very seldom works and is just a trial to see how you respond to the drugs. The second time is far more likely to be successful – except it wasn’t – not for us. And of course, all this time you can’t drink, so everyone thinks it’s because you are pregnant.

We were extremely fortunate, on our second round of IVF (see post here), though unsuccessful, we had 2 frozen embryos left. So we could go back for them without going through all the stimulation drugs or egg retrieval. It would be a relatively straightforward process of just thawing them and putting them in and hoping for the best. We were planning on doing this but 2 months beforehand, my period was late. This was following a weekend away where we cycled 50km in a day (I hadn’t been on a bike for about 10 years so it was a big deal), not to mention the copious amounts of wine consumed. When we got home, I went to my trusty stock of pregnancy tests just to see and yes, you guessed right – it was positive! The first, and only, time in my whole life I ever had a positive pregnancy test. Shock is an understatement as you can imagine. Someone asked did I do a second test to double check – NO WAY. What if the second one was negative? I couldn’t risk that (my unique sense of logic again!).

The anxiety in pregnancy following infertility, even though it was a natural conception in the end, is ongoing. I mean if my body/uterus had failed me for so long, how is it going to support a developing baby? It’s a constant worry, every twinge, every flutter, every kick comes with a mix of joy and tension in equal measures. However, the pregnancy continued, to our amazement, and a perfect baby boy arrived just over a week late. Our 2 frosties (what we call our frozen embryos) are still chilling out in a lab. The question is do we go back for them or try again ourselves or maybe one perfect baby is enough? Who knows what the future will bring. For now, we are only delighted with our little miracle.

Statistics

  • 1 in 6 couples are affected by infertility in Ireland
  • Success rates for IVF are 20-35% per cycle
  • Factors affecting fertility include age, BMI, lifestyle (eg smoking, alcohol, diet), medical conditions (eg endometriosis, polycystic ovaries).

Have a read of my post about where we went for IVF, costs and more detailed information.

Why not pin this for later!How to cope with infertility when it feels like everybody around you is getting pregnant.

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42 thoughts on “Reading between the lines

  1. Thanks for sharing. I think the comments people can say while you are dealing with infertility are also just the worst, like that it’s just a matter of “relaxing”. It can be a very lonely thing when you are going through it.

  2. It made me so happy reading that the test was positive 🙂 its always such a horrible time and I can relate as we are “trying” again and still no luck 🙁 we got pregnant very quickly first time around and I just assumed it would be the same, but its defiantly not the case. I’m thinking of doing a conception diary, as its always on my mind even thought i know i should just relax and see what happens. I am all natural and not using any apps or fertility planners as it just stressed me out.thanks for sharing #ablogginggoodtime

  3. Oh how I can relate to this post! So happy that it finally happened for you!! We have struggled with infertility and have never had a positive pregnancy test. We have since adopted three beautiful children. I have started a blog about our journey as well. Blessings to your family! Thanks for sharing #ablogginggoodtime

    1. Thanks Becky, it’s a tough old journey and so many go through it secretly which makes it even harder. Delighted you got your happy ending too, will check out your blog to read about your journey xx

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. I have friends who have also struggled (and some are still struggling) with infertility and it is so heartbreaking. IVF is so difficult for everybody involved and when it’s unsuccessful it can be very traumatic. I am so happy you were able to get pregnant, and it’s wonderful that you may have the option of your ‘frosties’ in the future if you decide you want to go down that road. #ablogginggoodtime
    Ellen recently posted…Motherhood Risk AssessmentMy Profile

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting Ellen. Yes, it’s great to have options for the future too but at the moment 1 is more than enough!!!

  5. Thank you for sharing this…not only have you expressed some of the complicated and difficult emotions but you have also provided information and real help I imagine to people in similar situations. And you’ve done it all in a really gripping way. I’m so happy it ended with a happy ending and it’s great that you’ve got potential routes to explore in the future if you want or need to #ablogginggoodtime

  6. Thank you for sharing your story. Oh how pleased I was that it read positive for you. I am pleased that you have little frosties there so that if you decide to be even braver than you already are and try again then you have that option!
    Thanks for sharing your brave story with #ablogginggoodtime

  7. So pleased you have a happy ending. Can’t imagine how difficult and overbearing thew IVF process must be. I was surprised by those statistics. #KCACOLS

  8. Thank you for bringing this subject up, as it does feel like such a taboo subject. People don’t know what to say, or do. So a lot end of saying something what seems insensitive or nothing at all.
    Congratulations on your lovely perfect baby.
    Its so true what you say, no one ever expects to be in this position, which makes it so hard.
    Amanda. #kcacols

  9. I was so pleased to read this, as it seems that hardly anyone in the parenting blogging “world” writes about infertility, and yet it is very common. My son was conceived through IVF, although my situation was different because I am a single mum so had treatment because I was using donor sperm. Although I wouldn’t say I have experienced infertility as that isn’t strictly true, having been through the IVF process and the desperate desire for a baby before that, I do feel that I have a little bit of insight into what it must be like. And of course always good to read about a happy ending! #KCACOLS

    1. Oh thank you and so brave of you to go down the ivf route alone, delighted it all worked out for you too. Thanks for your comment

  10. I can relate to so much of your post as though we had no problems conceiving our oldest, so never thought it would happen to us, we had secondary infertility which dragged on for years. No avoiding babies once you already have a child! We ended up going down the IVF route and were incredibly lucky first time round – now have toddler twins! The whole process of IVF is so tough though, and I can’t imagine going through it more than once without success, as so many people do. I’m so glad it happened for you after all that – enjoy this lovely time with your little miracle! #KCACOLS

    1. Thank you so much. Secondary infertility is even tougher on many levels, people asking when you’re having the next one once you have the first one. Congrats on the twins, I’m sure it was hard at the start but so worth it xx

  11. I’m glad the test was positive! People say infertility isn’t life threatening so therefore isn’t worth worrying about, but three years of it made me realise that it is certainly life changing. I found so called friends didn’t want to talk about my infertility or loss, but were (and still are) all over me when I was pregnant and when my daughter arrived! It’s taboo. Who knows why!
    #KCACOLS

  12. Thank you so much for sharing and for helping to break the taboo. It needs to be a more openly discussed and supported topic. I am so happy you became pregnant and have a little boy. That’s wonderful! #KCACOLS

    1. Thank you for reading Rebecca, I’m so glad I got a happy ending, some people are not so fortunate. I don’t know how or if they ever get over it.

  13. Excellent post. I spent the whole of my 20s trying to avoid getting pregnant and slightly neurotic about contraception only to find in my 30s that accidents are very unlikely. It took my a while to get pregnant and was really tough. I can’t imagine how much of an emotional rollercoaster IVF must be. Pen x #KCACOLS
    Pen recently posted…Being a single mom has made me a commitment phobeMy Profile

  14. I am so glad you got your line in the end. I think this is an issue that we should talk about – people feel uncomfortable mentioning it, or don’t think, and they say hurtful things without meaning too. but the more we talk about uncomfortable things and they become normal, the less this will happen. Thanks so much for linking with #KCACOLS. We hope you come back next week.

  15. A really great post. I struggled for 2 and half years trying to concieve and having 3 miscarriages in that time. I feel so lucky to finlly have my 6 month old daughter. Fertility is so precious and I never thought i would have trouble having a baby xx
    #KCACOLS
    Rachel Bustin recently posted…July Roundup and August Bucket ListMy Profile

    1. Thank you Rachel. So sorry you had such a struggle and to have gone through miscarriages as well. We both have our miracle babies – only a month between them!

  16. I’m so glad I found your blog. We’re going through Ivf for the first time at present and it is a stressful time. Although the clinic is good, by the time I get home I can’t remember a thing that was explained at the meetings. I was panicking about mixing drugs, double checking dates, and hoping that I wasn’t doing anything that might destroy our chances. I shut my husband out of the meds and mixing elements, which I now know is wrong. We’ve been through egg collection and heartbreakingly one one made it to day 5, but following testing, we are told is a good strong one. I’m doing what I can to prepare myself, (no coffee or alcohol and excercise). I’m finding blogposts like yours reassuring and informative! I’m trying to stay positive but the fear of it not working is strong.

    1. Oh Aoife, it really is so much to take in. I was exactly the same with the meds, total control freak here! I wish you all the best, it really is a lottery. Thanks for reading and I will try and do some more posts on fertility soon. Hopefully you will be reading the pregnancy ones in the very near future x

  17. Excellently written post. Infertility certainly has become a buzzword but the reality of it is huge and affects so many. And many ignore it believing it won’t happen to them and it’s not their issue #KCACOLS

  18. A difficult subject to talk about for any woman and you did it beautifully! My cousin has experienced infertility and ultimately has decided to proceed down the path of adoption. Im so incredibly happy for your new addition. Best wishes for whatever the future might hold!

  19. Brilliantly written insight into such a difficult topic, I’m so so glad you got the happy ending and I’m sure your posts are helping many many others.

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