Sarah (UK): It'll be you next...
It’ll be you next...
It’s one of those ignorant things people say when they feel that you should be having children and know nothing about your story. But what if you’re not? What if you really want to be next but you can’t?
My now husband and I had been together for five years when we decided to try for a baby. I turned 23 in August 2012: the age I wanted to be when I had my first child. Note that I always said, “my first child” – I had not even considered having difficulty conceiving, let alone the possibility of infertility. In October 2012 we went to Walt Disney World, Florida, for a friend’s wedding and we agreed I would stop taking my contraceptive pill...I mean, is there a more magical place to conceive your first child? My head and heart were filled with so much hope, love and excitement for the little life we were going to create.
Except, we didn’t.
For a long time, I blamed it on having been on the pill for so many years but as October 2014 drew closer I knew that there had to be more to it. I made a doctor’s appointment where they gave me the usual advice. None of it was new to me; there wasn’t a webpage on “how quickly will I conceive” and “how to get pregnant naturally” that I hadn’t viewed. After I sheepishly mentioned that it had been two years and I was already following all the advice he had just given me, my GP begrudgingly made me a gynaecology referral.
My initial consultant appointment was made for early 2015. I remember so clearly sitting in the waiting room...How was this possible? Isn’t it only old people who have difficulty conceiving? My consultant and I spoke at great length about my menstrual cycle and our journey so far. As the appointment came to an end, the consultant told me he suspected that I had polycystic ovaries and endometriosis but that it could only be confirmed by having a laparoscopy. I would receive a letter in the post to schedule the operation and, after a brief explanation of what endometriosis is, I was on my way.
Of course, when I got home I had to do some Google searches on endometriosis myself. As I scrolled through the pages I was struck by two things:
- This was clearly the reason behind my monthly debilitating pain and earth shattering tiredness on anything less than a solid eight hours sleep; all of the doctors who told me the pain was ‘normal’ and I was so tired because I was ‘burning the candle at both ends’ were wrong;
- There is so little research and information about endometriosis out there.
June 2015 - I had my first laparoscopy and, after it was over, my consultant confirmed that I had stage three endometriosis and he was shocked by how many adhesions were there; he couldn’t understand how I had been able to function with that level of pain. The adhesions had joined my bowel to my uterus and my right fallopian tube was bent with the ovary tucked behind my uterus. They managed to remove the majority of the adhesions and attempted to straighten the fallopian tube but were quick to explain it was not guaranteed to stay straightened out. Both ovaries were also showing cysts, the right side worse than the left. My follow up appointment confirmed that the most suitable course of action would now be for us to begin IVF. My world crashed down around me...IVF? But I’m 25... I’m young! I’ve had an operation! I should be fixed now!
It took me a while to process and I threw myself into a new job and wedding planning. We even bought a dog but nothing could disguise the fact that we didn’t have a child of our own. Slowly I came around to the idea and begun my research to find the right clinic for us.
After some consideration, we decided upon Create Fertility in St Paul’s, London. I was intrigued by their milder approach to IVF and it made sense to me. Why would you tamper with your body more than you needed to? The cycles were shorter and to me that felt healthier for both me and the child we longed for so much.
September 2016 - Our first cycle. I was having a crazy time at work but continued with IVF regardless. Every other day I was up before sunrise to drive to the tube, tube to St Paul’s, appointment, tube home, drive to work, work until 6:45pm, home for injections and then repeat. There is no denying it... It. Was. Hard. After 3 weeks my consultant told me we would need to have a freeze-all cycle as my right fallopian tube was filling with fluid that would be toxic to an embryo. The only option was to have the tube removed. My heart shattered. I cried. Hard. I was unable to do the most natural thing on earth and now part of my womanhood needed to be removed.
What happened next I was totally unprepared for...none of my eggs fertilised. How? I was still relatively young and healthy. In my head, I was preparing for the possibility that the transfer would fail but I hadn’t even considered fertilisation failing. I fell to the floor in a heap and cried until my Mum got there and then I cried some more. When my husband got home from work we sat and cried together for what felt like days. Eventually there were no more tears to cry; I felt an immense sadness at what could have been but I had no more tears left. This was my lowest point: my husband was my absolute rock and between him and my incredible parents they dragged me through and got me looking to the future and what could be once again.
January 2017 - Time for the damaged fallopian tube to be removed. The consultant calmly explained the operation: removing the damaged tube and any endometrial adhesions that had formed and only removing the other tube if they saw substantial damage. What? A chance of removing the other tube as well? Please, no.
The operation was a success, all adhesions and the one damaged tube removed. Although the other tube was sluggish, my consultant decided it could still work and would be best left.
March 2017 – Our second cycle. After meeting with my consultant, we agreed to try and create a quicker cycle this time to prevent my eggs from over maturing again. We started on a higher dosage and the journey began again. This time, I was much kinder to myself. I still needed to travel into London for appointments but I only worked until 5pm each day, regardless of what time I got there. This time, egg collection happened after just two weeks. Nine eggs were collected and six were considered mature. Hubby did his deed and we opted for ICSI this time. It worked: five out of six fertilised. Five days later we got to see our beautiful 5AB embryo being transferred back to its home. That was it, over to me now to take the very best care of our baby. On the way home there was a busker singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and we bumped into Jimmy Carr... I was filled with a warm fuzzy feeling and hubby and I laughed all the way home.
The next two weeks I worked for four hours each day to keep busy but also to look after myself. Test day was booked for 27th March, hubby’s birthday, and I resisted the temptation to test early...I was perfectly happy in my own bubble; as far as I knew, I was pregnant. On 25th March, our first wedding anniversary, I fainted for the first time ever. This was the moment we allowed ourselves to believe that this could have worked. Two days later we traipsed back into London for an 8am blood test. We were told to expect a phone call around 4pm and with that we made our way back home. It was the single longest day of my life. At 4:03pm the phone rang, I answered on the first ring and was greeted by a kind voice from Create. “I’m calling with the results of your blood test, you’re pregnant”, “It worked?”, “Yes, you’re pregnant.” *through endless tears* “Thank you, thank you, thank you so much!” A scan was booked for three weeks later and the call ended. My husband, who was sat next to me, had clearly got the gist of the conversation and had already started crying happy tears. This was it. I’m pregnant. We’re having a baby.
My pregnancy was relatively straight forward and at 36 weeks we were finally discharged from consultant care. At 40 weeks and 1 day my waters broke at home and a day later, 4th December 2017, our beautiful daughter was born weighing 6lbs and 6oz.
Welcome to the world Mollie. You have completed us.