I was thirty when I started trying to get pregnant – and when the first few months had gone by and nothing had happened, I started to worry. All my friends were getting pregnant or having babies at that time, and it seemed as if every week there was another happy announcement – I felt as if everyone else was moving on and I was stuck, treading water, waiting and unable to do anything about it.
We had endless tests, but no one could find any reason why I wasn’t getting pregnant as everything looked normal. It was a really difficult time as we were at our local hospital and we often had to wait months in between tests, and all the while I still wasn’t pregnant. I started to put everything on hold – I didn’t want to book holidays or plan anything because I kept hoping I might be pregnant by that time. I didn’t want to tell any of our friends because I couldn’t bear the idea of people feeling sorry for me, so we had to endure endless jokey comments about how we didn’t want to go leaving it too long etc. I’d always loved my job, but I started to question whether the hectic nature of the work might be affecting my fertility – and then I began to resent work too. I hated watching other women go off on maternity leave – and then come back part-time chattering on about their babies – whilst all the time I was still stuck in the same place, waiting and waiting.
In the end, we went to see a lovely consultant who suggested trying IVF. I was shocked as I still couldn’t quite accept that we really did have a fertility problem because it was unexplained – and there was a bit of me that kept hoping I’d suddenly get pregnant naturally. He arranged for us to have treatment right away as we were self-funding (at the time the NHS wait locally was more than a year) – and before we’d realised quite what had happened we were swept into the world of injections and scans. The medical side wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d feared, but I had no idea how overwhelming an emotional experience IVF would turn out to be. When the cycle didn’t work, I wasn’t sure I could ever put myself through it again. It felt as if we’d reached the end of the line, and there was nowhere else to go. Eventually, we had another frozen cycle – which didn’t work either – and then decided to go for another full fresh cycle. We’d just moved house, and everything was totally chaotic, which helped in a strange kind of way. Even so, I was utterly amazed when I did a pregnancy test and it was positive. I just assumed it must be some kind of mistake, until the hospital confirmed the result with a blood test.
My son was the result of that cycle, and I also have a daughter born four years later after more treatment. At the time, I always felt that our unexplained infertility must be somehow my fault – because I was too stressed or working too hard or not living the right lifestyle – but in fact, I have never got pregnant naturally despite changing all of those things in my life. There is clearly a medical reason why we couldn’t conceive – but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I may never know what it is.