This post is about my journey through unexplained infertility. I’ve not written a personal post yet. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t nervous and vulnerable about it. I am quite a private person and don’t like to make a fuss but today all I feel like doing is writing about my feelings and getting it all out there. I am writing this if not only to help me get all my emotions out about unexplained infertility but also in the hope that my story might help someone else who is going through this.
Today I am feeling angry and upset. Today I got my period.
When growing up, I’m not sure about you but I always just presumed that to make a baby you just do the deed, and bam, a baby would appear 9 months later. Oh, how wrong I could be. Little did I know that the whole baby making process can be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through. Infertility did not even enter my mind.
Before I go on, just a little bit of background on me. I have been married since October 2015 which is also when my husband Mark and I decided the time was right to extend our family. We both felt ready (well, as ready as anyone can be). I stopped taking the pill when my last pack finished just after the wedding. 20 months have passed since then and our journey has been nothing short of a rollercoaster of emotions.
The most ironic thing about this whole process is that all girls go through most of their pre-puberty years trying their hardest to do anything they can to prevent a pregnancy. But when the time comes to actually want a baby it’s not as simple or as easy as it should be. Something that started off being fun and exciting has turned into something quite mechanical and draining for us at times.
Throughout our fertility journey we have had countless numbers of tests.
I’ve also had a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy. All tests have turned out absolutely fine, which, I’m afraid to say has put us in the ‘Unexplained Infertility’ category. To say this is the most frustrating diagnosis is an understatement. We have been medically proven to have nothing wrong with us and yet still we haven’t been able to get pregnant so something must be wrong somewhere. After countless negative tests, I have never seen those 2 lines I so dream about. I have lost count how many times I have wondered why this is happening. What have we done to deserve this?
As a child, I used to pull legs off of spiders and cut worms in half (yes I was that kid) and have even gone so far as to think that could be the reason why I’ve not managed to become pregnant! What goes round comes around and that is why I am being punished. I’d be here all day if I told you all the thoughts I’ve had pop into my head about this!
I have been told by quite a few people that 20 months really isn’t a long time to try for a baby. I know there are some people out there who have been going through this for much longer than we have. Those people have my upmost admiration and sympathy. However, when you’re in your mid-thirties with pretty much all your friends either pregnant or having children around you it seems like the longest time in the world. One of the things I’ve found most hard is having friends who have been pregnant and had their babies who hadn’t started trying until way after us. To me that heightens the time even more.
Opening up about infertility
Up until about November last year, I hadn’t really spoken to any of my friends about our infertility… a couple of close mates knew but that was it. As I said, I don’t really wear my heart on my sleeve. I didn’t want to tell anyone about what I was going through because it felt private. I also always just thought that ‘next month will be the one’ so didn’t feel the need to burden anyone with my problems. Last November after another unsuccessful cycle, I had a mini breakdown and decided I needed some support. Since I have started telling people I have started to feel a little better. My friends text me just to check in and ask how I am sometimes. It’s comforting. Even though 99% of my friends can’t relate to what I am going through it’s still nice to know that people are there for you if you need them.
Of course with telling friends I have had all sorts of well meaning advice. The main one being ‘don’t think about it and it will happen’ which I’m sorry to say is the worst advice ever! (And if you know of anyone going through this then I advise you to not say that to them!!).
Understanding fertility through BBT
I have been taking my temperature every morning since about month 4. Because of this I have months of data that has allowed me to not only determine that I do ovulate but also when in my cycle that I do. For those of you that haven’t heard of FAM (Fertility Awareness Method) or BBT (Basal Body Temperature) allow me to explain. (I’ll keep this brief as I am going to write more about this in a later post).
Before ovulation occurs (pre-ovulatory stage), a woman’s temperatures are at their lowest (typically between 36.01 – 36.50 degrees celsius. When ovulation occurs (post ovulatory), the temperature spikes a few points of degrees higher and remains elevated until progestogen drops along with the temperature and the period appears. It remains elevated if a pregnancy occurs. I use the app Kindara to keep track of my charts. See below diagram for an example.
A normal cycle is considered to be between 24 and 34 days in length with ovulation occurring somewhere in the middle. All women are different and you certainly aren’t abnormal if your cycles aren’t exactly 28 days. Despite what some medical professionals may tell you! The only time alarm bells should start ringing is if your cycles are shorter than 24 days or longer than 34. Mine typically last about 31 days with ovulation occurring on day 18.
The benefits of keeping track of your cycles are massive. It has confirmed to me that I do ovulate and I have been able to trust my body more and more giving me the confidence and control. With TTC (trying to conceive) being completely out of my control, it has definitely provided me some comfort.
We seem to have tried a lot…
During these last 20 months, we have tried probably everything under the sun in order to conceive. To name a few:
Castor Oil packs
Epsom Salt Baths
All kinds of ‘fertility’ supplements
Eating pineapple (yes really!)
Sex every day
Sex every other day
Cutting out alcohol (I don’t drink caffeine)
Cough medicine (again, yes really!)
You name it. We’ve tried it.
Last week, after 6 months on the ovulation boosting drug Clomid, our consultant (after diagnosing us with unexplained infertility) has now started the process to refer us for IVF. I’ll be honest with you; it was a huge relief when he said those words to us. It felt like there is now a light at the end of the tunnel. I feel excited but a little scared. However, after going through 20 months of uncertainty, waiting and second guessing I feel like we’re finally heading in the right direction.
Life doesn’t turn out the way you’ve planned it.
I am a glass half full kind of person but trying for a baby is one big head mess! One thing I will say about infertility is that when all is said and done there are positives to not conceiving straight away. I know my body so much now and how I feel at certain times of the month and why. Plus, not only has it allowed Mark and I to save some more money but we’ve also been able to go on some amazing holidays and mini breaks… we’ve kind of gone all out for 2017. This year we will be going on a total of 5 and we don’t even care.
So that’s my fertility journey so far. Sorry it’s a long read. I’d love to hear from anyone who is going through this and wants to share their story. Trying to conceive can feel like the loneliest thing in the world at times and I would love to have someone else to talk to share stories.
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