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Monday, 31 January 2011


Cycle number: 8
Cycle day: 37
Meds: Still the Met
Outlook: Sunny

I forgot to add to my last post something about the emotional impact of trying to conceive for a long time. It's probably better that this gets its own dedicated post anyway. It's not to be underestimated. I've touched on it before but it's worth reiterating, because although no-one* really recognises it, the reality for a lot of women is that it's a pretty traumatic experience, with a negative impact on self esteem, confidence and general happiness.

I'm talking about the feeling that you are a failure as a woman, that your body has let you down. Dealing with other peoples' insensitivity, lack of sympathy and sometimes downright nastiness and rudeness. Having to maintain a calm, collected facade at work when AF arrives for the 500th time (after all, it might mean the end of the world to you, but what is it to anyone else?). Having to maintain a calm, collected, happy facade when everyone around you falls pregnant for the first, second, third time. Fighting off the hormonal surges that tell you to reproduce and make you feel bad for not having achieved it yet, and may never...

And of course there is everyone elses' emotions intertwined with ttc: your parents waiting eagerly to be grandparents, wanting to see your family grow and flourish, unable (or sometimes unwilling) to provide any real comfort to you, their child. The way friends either feel too bad to let you in on their pregnancies or over compensate by treating you like a fragile flower, just in case you weren't already feeling awkward enough. And of course your darling partner, waiting just as you are to become a parent, feeling every hurt and frustration but sometimes unable to express it to anyone but you.

It's funny though how unaffected women seem by all this one they finally achieve their pregnancy. I guess the tremendous warmth you get from knowing there is a life growing inside you makes everything you have been through seem worth it a thousand times over. I wonder how many of these women even remember how tiring the whole thing was once they have their little one to dote on? Or do they just take it all in their stride? I wonder, then, what happens to the (relatively) small proportion of women who never achieve pregnancy or acquire a child in another way? Are there significant lasting effects to what they have experienced? What do they do to move forward without that hurt inside them? I would be interested to find out. I do hope I never get to that point.

Friday, 28 January 2011

The Waiting Game

Cycle number: 8
Cycle day: 34
Meds: still the Met
Outlook: serene

Today I booked an appointment at the fertility clinic. I will go there next Friday for a scan to check my lining. If all is well, I will take Pro.vera to induce a bleed, and will then start on my second round of Clo.mid. I'm excited to be moving forward again. I tried Clo.mid for the first time in October, but didn't ovulate. Bubble and I have since been on a ttc break as our wedding is in September and we didn't want to risk a baby due around that time. It's been a strange time...no active thinking about baby-making but no prevention either apparently I have my own in-built contraceptive... It's just been a time of waiting and waiting.

So I am uber excited to be doing something about it again. My dose will be upped to 100mg and hopefully I will ovulate this time. Just to ovulate would be a massive achievement, to know that it is possible. People who "just" get pregnant simply don't know how lucky they are not to have to think about this kind of stuff. As I have written about before, my sister is currently pregnant. She wasn't actively trying and it was her first month off birth control. She didn't even realise she was pregnant until she was nearly 10 weeks gone. She's never read anything about trying to conceive, or pregnancy, never made any changes to her lifestyle to improve her chances, never even talked about having children to my knowledge. And yet here she is, over halfway towards having her own child.

It is tiring having to actively try. Even if you don't go completely overboard and become quite obsessed - which understandably happens to a lot of women trying for a child - there is so much involved in the whole process for those to whom it doesn't just happen after the initial "honeymoon" couple of months when you are blissfully unaware:

  • The Science - how the hell does this conception thing work anyway? Bizarrely, one of the most natural and personal endeavours in the world is still a mystery since they forgot to include it in any school curriculum. Terminology, maths, biology, charting (I'll come back to that), you pretty much become a certified fertility nurse after the first six months
  • The Reading - anything, everything, online, in books, in magazines. Definitely online. Stories of conception and birth and what worked and what didn't, sifting through medical journals and horror stories and old wives tales, self diagnosis, message boards, forums, blogs.....especially blogs ;) Trying to absorb and make sense of this large quantity of text can be extremely challenging
  • The Self Obsessing - Symptom checking, fretting over this pain and that... is something wrong with me? If so, what is it? If I felt a twinge on CD7 does this mean that I have PCOS? Am I pregnant? If I felt sick at this point last cycle and I don't now, does that mean something? O_O The constant self analysis can be incredibly draining and psychosomia-inducing
  • The Charting - a fresh hell for anyone who is already starting to panic about ttc. Temperatures, taken to the very same minute each morning otherwise they could be misleading, but is the thermometer accurate? Are my multivitamins interferring? Did that curry last night cause it to be higher than usual? For me, the anticipation of my morning temperature-taking would always cause me to wake before I should, which then made my temps inaccurate, and the whole thing just made me tired before I could even start the day
  • The Deed - what was once an expression of love between you and your partner suddently becomes a regimen even the army would be proud of. To do it every night or every other night? Or the SMEP system? Or twice a day if we can manage it? And should it be in this position or that, using Pre-seed or egg whites or some kind of headstand at the end? This is even more frustrating if you don't ovulate at the same time each month (or hardly ever at all) and you just have to keep going for weeks or months with no end in sight just in case you miss that egg.....!!
  • The Waiting - waiting to ovulate, waiting the Two Week Wait, waiting through symptoms and negative HPTs, waiting to start fertility treatment, waiting for appointments, scans, procedures.....and ultimately waiting for that little magic to spark inside and create a life
I almost can't imagine conception from the perspective of a fertile, just being able to decide one day "I think I want a baby" and within a few months knowing it is there; finding out you are already several weeks pregnant without even knowing; getting excited at the prospect of getting pregnant and then having all your dreams fulfilled instantly. The rest of us work so hard to get and stay pregnant, and when it finally does happen, it must be the greatest achievement of our lives.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure fertiles love getting and being and staying pregnant, and love their babies and the whole shebang. But the test you turn up for on the day without revising never means as much to you as the one you spent months studying for; instant gratification is never as satisfying as something you have worked hard for and has consumed your life; and in the same way I feel almost lucky to be in my position. When I do eventually have a baby, it truly will be a miracle for us; I will never take a single day of its life for granted or all the moments leading to it. I will have worked really hard for it and I will spend each day being thankful for my reward.

I just have to wait a little bit longer......

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Cycle number: 8
Cycle day: 31
Meds: 1000mg Met.formin
Outlook: grrrrr

"I have carried a human life inside my body I have comforted a baby on my chest I have been puked, peed & pooped on ive woken up to a hungry baby & stayed up all night with a sick baby but I wouldn't have it any other way my body isn't magazine perfect but when I look in the mirror I see.........a mummy and there is no greater honor or blessing!!! make this your status if you are a proud mummy cuz i am!!!"
"Does she work.... Yes she does!!!... 24 hours a day. why? Coz shes a MUM... a cook, a cleaner, a parent, a teacher, a referee, a nanny, a nurse, a handyman, a maid, a photographer, a councilor, a chauffer and a comforter... she don't get holidays, sick pay or any days off.. she works through the DAY and NIGHT.... litrally on call 24 hours!!!"
Just a couple of the delightful chain-status updates I have seen on Facebook in recent months. I can't help but wonder what is the point of them other than to brag about the fact you've had children? It's as if the assumption is that motherhood is looked down upon, that mothers are being vilified in some way in society, and by putting this as your status you are somehow defying that and standing up for yourself and mothers in general. 
 Except I really don't think that's the case. Of course you get the odd newspaper article about working mothers vs stay-at-home mothers and that kind of thing, but I really don't feel at all that there is any stigma attached to being a mother. Feigning defensiveness just seems like a good excuse to paste your smugness across the interwebs.
 Luckily neither of these were posted by my actual FB "friends", otherwise I would've had to make some kind of comment (and possibly a deletion!). Of course there is no harm in being a "proud mummy" - and I'm sure I will be filled with pride if I ever get to be one - but this kind of bragging is also pretty hurtful to people who may be dealing with infertility, miscarriage or any other problem conceiving (and some of this posters friends are).
 It's true, there is "no greater honour or blessing" than being able to bring a life into the world, no one would deny that. And being that it is such a great, personal, deeply poignant moment in life, why would anyone choose to celebrate that by reposting a generic, badly thought out, poorly written blurb?
 I'm not saying everyone should tread on eggshells 24/7 in case an infertile is lurking somewhere, listening in and taking offense.  Of course not. I would feel as bad about that as I do about these statuses. I just think that expressing your joy in your family and children can be done in other, much more genuine ways than this which won't come across as rubbing other peoples' noses in the fact. Ways that come from the heart rather than from the keyboard of someone somewhere reveling in smug superiority.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Getting It

Cycle number: 8
Cycle day: 26
Meds: Met.formin 1000mg
Outlook: Hmmmm

Most people feel that their mother is the one person they can totally rely on in life (despite their nagging*). I also presumed that she would be the one person who could fully support me on my journey to becoming a mother myself, but a recent incident proved me wrong:

She had known we were trying to conceive, and knew that I had just completed a round of Clo.mid which didn't work. Yet she didn't intervene or advise or prepare for the fact that my sister was about to announce her own pregnancy. It was upsetting, after entering my fourth year of infertility, to receive a text from my sister saying "Hello Gim" (her demeaning nickname for me which I hate), "I have some exciting/scary news! You're going to be an Auntie!" My mother of course had known about it for some time (6 weeks at the time of the text). I didn't even know they were trying. Why, I wondered, didn't she think to prepare me in some way? Why didn't she think to advise my sister to be slightly more tactful or sensitive about the way she told me? Her response? "It didn't even occur to me".

Worrying. Even more worrying was when she said that, being someone who had never had any problems with fertility, it wasn't something she could identify with. Isn't that a symptom of autism? This got me to thinking, why is it that so many people are blind to infertility?

My best friend had to have two babies terminated in recent years due to a genetic disorder. My mother was perfectly able to sympathise with this, and recently expressed her joy at the fact that my friend is now pregnant with a healthy baby. When my sister had a minor scare just before Christmas, my mother was first on the scene to support in case of a miscarriage - something she has never gone through herself but was able to identify with. Even my dad texted me on that day (and he never, ever texts me) to let me know, saying how it was going to be a "grim Christmas" if the worst happened. So even my DAD was able to sympathise with the situation.

Why then is infertility not on people's radar? Why does my four year struggle and not even a single pregnancy not get the same support? I understand that it can be more difficult to identify with if you haven't been through it yourself, but is there really an excuse for total ignorance? 

There is no "big event" with infertility like there is for a miscarriage or a termination - no focal point for all the sadness and dread. The pain and fear is instead a daily grind, mixed in with a bit of hope and anticipation for good measure. Of course I would never wish to go through a miscarriage or a necessary termination - and I feel tremendous sympathy for those who have - but in some ways I do envy that focal point. A day when everyone would just be nice, where there were no comments like "Aren't you getting broody yet?" or "Are you not really interested in having children yet then?" or "You just need to get your ovaries sorted out then you can have one of these!"**. A day when I would be allowed to cry and people would offer comfort and support, reassuring stories, hopeful mantras and a kind smile. And after that day was over, I could begin moving forward with my strength buffered by their compassion, people would get on with their lives but a little bit of them would remember that day and there would be no more hurtful comments. 

I can only conclude that the people who are unsympathetic or unaware - and there are lots of people who aren't - see that the infertiles didn't have anything to begin with, so haven't lost anything. That until we get to the day that we stop trying to conceive, there is every possibility that we will. That until it never happens there is the chance that it might. There is something frighteningly naive about that view, but also kind of pure and hopeful: it can, may, might, should, will hopefully happen for us. Let's not forget that.

*I know I'll be there myself someday....
** GENUINE comments said to me, I'm afraid to say

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Very Beginning

Ahhh my very own blog. A fairly scary prospect, putting my thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams out into the midst of the interweb for any old person to read. But also very exciting, controlling my own space, getting some of the things that burn a hole in my brain out, and by putting them into words, hopefully understanding myself and others more. 

But make no mistake, this isn't some random, thoughts-plucked-out-of-the-air, "what has annoyed me today?" type blog. My poor other half has to cope with all of that. No - this is very specific, on a topic I can't discuss with many people:


Not the sort (touch wood) where I have been told I can never have children. That would be a very different blog. I am not at that point. There is hope for me but fertility is not one of my strong points. 

When I first got my period at age 11, it was the worst moment of my life. I suddenly felt very alone, not knowing anyone else in my peer group who had, and felt marginally disgusted by my body doing this vile thing. This disgust and horror continued for a few years, not helped by very heavy periods, horrendous cramps and feeling I had lost control of myself.

It wasn't until I was 15 that I began to suspect something was wrong. Where other friends were by now used to their monthly visitor, I was still wary, and I realised it was because it wasn't happening monthly. Two might happen consecutively then nothing for three months, nothing for six months. My GP batted away my concerns like a predictable bowl - it was nothing worth worrying about until I was ready to conceive and would likely be resolved by going on the pill.

Mostly I was relieved that it was nothing "serious" but underneath a tiny pair of teeth started to gently bite something is wrong, a gnawing that would grow over the years.

Simultaneously I started to dream about the future, as teenagers are occasionally known to do, and in my blissful ignorance I would tell anyone who cared to listen how I hoped to have 8 children, a nice big family where something was always going on. Having come from a small and somewhat cold family myself this seemed the perfect aspiration. And of course you are flippant at that age. Children were something for the future, sure, but what really mattered was education and a good job and prospects. Children were the easy option for those who failed, a natural, biological process as old as time (and a little bit older). How little I knew.

And so we spring forward to now. I am approaching 28 and have never been pregnant. I have been trying to achieve this magical, elusive state since March 2009 with my lovely Bubble (since February 2007 with a previous partner). I have poly-cystic ovary syndrome. I am about to start fertility treatment.

The end of the post, but this is only the beginning...