Well, where to begin?! Couples who face fertility challenges are amongst the bravest people I meet. To pursue the desire for a child through such extreme ups and downs takes enormous courage. These journeys are not often shared, but I’m finding more and more couples I work with have been through it- as with any element of our parenting experiences, I believe that sharing our stories empowers us all. We are stronger together. We can do amazing things.
IVF can leave couples feeling that pregnancy and birth are not a natural experience for them, and this can affect their confidence, which is understandable. I always encourage them to consider that of course we should be SO GRATEFUL for the help they’ve had so far, but they have since been capable of growing this child from tiny beginnings- these women are miracle makers. They, like any other mother, remain autonomous as they move forwards- informed choice is everything, and how empowering to complete the journey on your own terms after starting it in the opposite way.
So grateful to this gorgeous woman for opening up the realities for us, and beyond thrilled to be credited in bringing some positivity to this family.
Well my parenthood journey started on our wedding day. I had waited for my whole adult life to be a mother and this was it, my time had arrived…. I thought!
After a year of trying to conceive, my husband wanted us to go the GP. I however, didn’t want to. It was irrelevant to me, as even if there was something wrong, I was determined that i was going to fall pregnant naturally without intervention! However, I finally agreed to go and so did hubby. We had one year of test after repetitive tests and appointments.
Within this period, I was still absolutely adamant that it would all be a waste of time and that i would find a natural cure to our fertility problems. So I did everything… you name it! Acupuncture, reflexology, reiki, massage, womb massage, special diet, suppliments, stress management, exercise… I really don’t think there was anything I hadn’t done. We spent thousands of pounds on all this natural treatment as well as the hours of my time reading and researching.
We finally found out after now two whole years of trying, that the recommendations were IVF. In my mind this was so severe because I never felt our difficulties were that severe, but obviously it wasn’t happening naturally and so after a period of denial, I finally accepted that we needed medical assistance and reluctantly agreed to go ahead with the IVF.
When the time to begin drew close, I was nervous about doing weeks of injections and was worried about managing work stress so decided to take some time off work to just concentrate on me. But we didn’t want anyone to know, so I used to lie to my friends and family and one day I even put on my uniform to go round my mums so it looked like i’d been to work!
Weeks of injections weren’t as bad as I thought and I kept well throughout the process. The appointments were fine, with a nice friendly nurse who I got to know well and some I got some relaxation time for me. I still continued with all my natural treatments as well so I was still having regular acupuncture and reflexology during this time.
The procedure to have the eggs removed was a slightly unpleasant one and the impersonalisation of my husband doing his ‘bit’ in another room without me wasn’t very natural. The next 5 days were a waiting game of seeing how many embryo’s were developing. And then …. the day came… we had one good embryo and we were ready to go. The whole procedure couldn’t get any more scientific and it really is the least natural way of ‘conceiving’… laying on my back (ok maybe this bit might be a bit more ‘normal’) having my ‘mini baby’ named “Bubble” inserted via a catheter tube and watching the small dot on the screen.
And then the real wait begins…. two weeks of waiting to see whether I was pregnant. Analysing every sensation, every pain and waiting for the day of the pregnancy test. Or in my case, not… I didn’t need to wait until the pregnancy test to know the result. I had just returned to work after 3 weeks off and at the end of my first day back, I had a really heavy period. I was heartbroken. My husband rushed home from work to be with me as I sobbed my heart out.
Being with the NHS, we had to wait another 6 months before we could go through it all again. So we enjoyed our freedom for a couple of months. I found out officially of my negative pregnancy a few days before Christmas and the day before my birthday. Some people might think this was a depressing time for this disappointment but actually it was fab because I was distracted by other things and it gave me an excuse to let my hair down for a few weeks and shock horror….. drink alcohol, which i’d not really done for a couple of years. We had a great couple of weeks.
Then after a couple of months of relaxing, we were back on the natural road to conceiving… back with the healthy eating, acupuncture, reflexology, supplements, fertility massage etc etc. And then the time had come again to do the whole thing again. This time the IVF treatment protocol was a slightly different one and I had to inject for even longer this time. I think the whole process took about two months from beginning the injections to ‘conceiving’. This time we had two embryos put back, ‘Peggy’ and ‘Eddie’.
Again I didn’t need to do the pregnancy test to know the result. My nipples had turned really dark! Something weird was going on in my body! Then at 5am of the special day, I woke up desperate for a wee, knowing I had to do the test on the first wee of the day. So there me and my husband were standing, counting 2 minutes to see the word ‘pregnant’ on the stick. I think it was possibly one of the only times I’ve ever seen real emotion in my husband. We were ecstatic.
However, although I was really happy that I was pregnant, I was never happy with the way it had to happen. I work for the nhs, so in theory I should be supportive of doctors and medicines. However, I’m actually very pro natural alternatives so I was always gutted that I couldn’t fall pregnant even with all my efforts and I felt I had failed myself.
Although the most important bit was successfully achieved now, I still wanted some control over the next 9 months. I had extra scans and extra consultant appointments because apparently my baby was ‘more special’ and although I agree my baby was / is very special, I think that’s slightly mean to say my baby was any more important than any other mothers’ baby and I never felt that any further appointments were necessary as in my mind my pregnancy was just the same as any other pregnancy now the conception phase was done.
The consultant recommended that I gave birth in hospital but he accepted my choices of a home birth preference and even accepted my decline for induction at 10 days (although he said I should have a sweep at 39 weeks instead). He gave his opinion but I was listened to. I declined everything he suggested. I was going to do this my way. Which was at home with the techniques I had learnt from Keri and Hypnobirthing. I spent hours researching, reading and planning my birth. But I can proudly say I got the non medical birth I’d hoped. I had a home, water birth with (almost) no midwife and (almost) no pain relief, although I confess I wanted more of both of these things, but sometimes these things happen quicker than the mothers and midwifes realise!
I was proud of myself. I spent much time worrying about this birth choice and worrying about alternative birth choices and so when I successfully delivered my gorgeous baby daughter into the world, I wanted to give a big fingers up to the doctors and the people that didn’t believe I could do it. I may not have been in control of my conception but I sure did re-gain some control over my birth choice.
And the one thing that made this happen: Keri Jarvis and her teaching on hypnobirthing. If nothing else, she taught me that I had choices and gave me the confidence I needed to make my own decisions and gave scientific information for me to know the facts to help me. We are now planning on doing the whole thing again and now I have the confidence to deal with the process even more than I did first time around. Thank you Keri.