Like lots of couples we decided to wait a while before starting a family. No rush. A year later the pills were chucked away and we waited for nature to take its course. It didn’t.
Doctors appointments were made and ‘helpful’ advice given by everyone we knew. No drinking, healthy diets, more exercise, yoga, supplements, acupuncture. I wanted to scream when a friend blithely told me to stick my legs in the air after doing the deed. I’d done headstands and they still hadn’t worked. “Stop thinking about it and it will happen”. Grrr. At the next doctors appointment we were finally referred to a specialist. Hurrah. That was two years after starting to try.
The day the consultants appointment finally came through was bizarre. I got home from work after an exhausting day at the office. I collapsed on the sofa as I had for the past couple of weeks, absolutely shattered. As I opened the post and read that our appointment to meet with the specialist had been made I had a shock. Hang on…when was my last period? It seemed that indeed, we had stopped thinking about it since seeing the doctor, with belief that the consultants would sort it all out so we could relax. I was pregnant.
Apart from being thoroughly exhausted I was in my element. I refused to buy a thing until after our first scan at 12 weeks though. We saw our little baby wiggling around on the screen, and after examining the pictures I decided ‘he’ looked like a dinosaur. He was nicknamed Rex. We wandered along the promenade in Cheltenham and bought a Gorgeous snoopy for Rex, his first toy.
Fast forward to our first meeting with our midwife at home and then, a couple of weeks later I had to pop into the surgery for a second appointment. My husband had just left for work that morning when I popped to the loo and realised I was bleeding. I instinctively knew it was too late. I rang my husband who turned the car around and then we rang the surgery. The told us to come in straight away.
There was obviously a mix up with messages because we were greeted with a cheery ‘How are we?’ When we got to the doctors. The poor midwife’s face was ashen when my husband explained why we were there. They couldn’t find a heartbeat, but suggested it could just be their equipment. Best to go to the hospital and get checked over properly. As we left the surgery, tears streaming, we bumped into my parents. My Mum worked at the surgery and was being accompanied to work by my Dad. It was such an awful thing, telling them what was happening. I’ll never forget their faces.
We drove to the hospital and had to sit and wait with all of the other pregnant ladies who were waiting for their scans. Lying on the bed and waiting to be told our baby hadn’t survived felt like the longest and most painful wait of my life. The midwife left us alone whilst our hearts broke into tiny pieces. We held each other tightly and waited to be told what to do next.
Due to being so far along they suggested the best thing to do was have a general anaesthetic and surgery. At that point I couldn’t think of anything worse than going through labour, so agreed. Unfortunately they couldn’t schedule the operation until the next day, so after leaving through a rear fire exit (avoiding pregnant women) we drove home. I don’t remember much about that night apart from feeling so incredibly sad. My husband drove us back to the hospital the next day. I was shocked by the number of health professionals who asked me if I understood what was happening and then made me tell them, in case I had misunderstood in any way. That was horrific. I sat in bed sobbing, broken. The procedure was carried out and I remember coming round to find Rob by my bed. I felt so numb. How would we ever get over this?
We had to. We went home. Went back to jobs and told friends, cried, explained, cried some more. We talked about Rex but tried hard not to let it take over our lives. I ended up seeing the doctor for antidepressants after sobbing to a friend one day. I saw taking tablets to cheer myself up as a sign of weakness. She made me realise that I would take medication for a bad headache, so why not take tablets for being sad. They worked.
We kept trying but nothing happened. We went back to the hospital to see a consultant for test results. The loss of Rex was unexplained. I was convinced it just wasn’t meant to be for us. One friend in particular kept mentioning IVF. I was determined it wasn’t for us. We had a strong relationship that I didn’t want to rock. I had read so many horror stories about couples being pushed to their very limits, and I didn’t think I could cope if we went through all that and we didn’t get a positive result. And what if we did get pregnant? I might lose another baby. I just couldn’t put us through that.
We bought a camper van and enjoyed being a couple. We had a lovely time, lots of holidays, touring around France in our van and spending weekends in pubs and restaurants with friends. I started working for an amazing company and enjoyed throwing myself into work. We got our beloved spaniel.
I still wanted a baby. Desperately. The same friend kept mentioning IVF and finally I went to see the doctor and asked for a referral. Just to have a chat. Just to stop my friend from going on about it constantly. I told my boss and colleague who were both very supportive. ‘Just go and chat, you don’t have to decide anything’.
We went together to see the consultant, a lovely chap, who ordered loads of tests, some invasive and upsetting. I found them tough after losing Rex and didn’t enjoy being back in hospital again. Apart from finding some old endometriosis scarring (they had told me years before after a laparoscopy that I definitely didn’t have endometriosis) I was given a clean bill of health. Waiting for tests to be done, results to come back and further tests took a year. Seriously, a year.
Normally fairly calm I lost it with the consultants P.A when she rang me one morning to postpone yet another appointment. I sobbed down the phone at her that I couldn’t wait any more, enough was enough. She rang me back five minutes later and I was seen that afternoon. The consultant decided IVF was the most practical solution. I had ‘unexplained infertility’ He referred me to ‘the best in the business’ (his words) the fabulous Mrs Rajkhowa at The Priory in Birmingham. She told me I had a 22% chance at my age (38) of succeeding at IVF. We could have two rounds on the NHS.
We didn’t decide straight away and spent a while thinking about it. The paperwork sat on the coffee table at home, but eventually I realised that I would hate to reach 40 (the benchmark I had set myself) and have wondered ‘what if’. I was shown how to inject myself, (the bit I was most dreading) and told which pills to take when, we were sent home. The process had begun. Ovaries were stimulated and hormones did their thing. I can honestly say it was nowhere near as bad as I had expected, although, due to the ovaries being stimulated I looked pregnant and felt uncomfortable. We went back to the clinic to have my eggs harvested.
They managed to retrieve five which were fertilised with my husbands sperm. Worcestershire NHS have a policy of only putting one embryo back in, and the five were carefully monitered. We had a call each morning from the hospital with an update on them and their growth. After five days we were called back in to have the star pupil embryo put back in. It was like a smear test but with several more people in attendance! I did actually feel the scratch inside as the embryo was planted.
Then began the most painful bit- the 2 week wait to find out if we were pregnant. On July 27th 2017 we were back at the Priory and our favourite nurse led us from the waiting room into a tiny beige room to congratulate us. We were having a baby. Cue tears and a huge group hug. Writing this now I have tears streaming down my face. Of course our friends relatives and certainly my colleagues knew what was going on, so instead of the usual 12 weeks we had to tell them straight away. That was odd, but again, my colleagues were fabulous. I think my parents were terrified but excited. I felt the same. Every time I went to the toilet for the following 9 months I was panicking. Despite that I absolutely loved being pregnant and luckily didn’t have any sickness.
On April Fools Day (ha!) this year I went into labour. Maybe we’ll save that tale for another time! As I write this we are on holiday in Suffolk. Our 5 and a half month old perfect son is tucked up in bed. I am knackered. But so incredibly happy and lucky.
Do I wish I had done it sooner? Perhaps. But it’s easy for me to say that, we were so incredibly lucky to be one of the successful 22%.
I can’t imagine our lives any differently now. Motherhood is all encompassing. We’re celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary this Christmas, our baby’s first Christmas. A new chapter.
A Guest Blog from Anna Field
Anna is 39 and three quarters and office manager at Little Soap Company in Broadway. Married to Rob, they live in Evesham with their baby son Harry and crazy spaniel (original surrogate child) George.
Enjoyed this read? Make sure you check out all of the CheltenhamMaman recommendations over at Maman Pages.