I’ve started this blog in the hope that it will make others feel less alone. I think most people going through Fertility struggles consider it to be a private thing that nobody else needs to know about. That may be true, and I wouldn’t be writing this if my struggle was short-lived, but after years of this heartache, the isolation begins to affect you and you realise that so many are suffering in silence. But you are not alone – so I hope this blog and articles like this one from Colleen Berge help.
I consider myself to be a pretty open person and felt uncomfortable being secretive, so after only a year of not having success conceiving, I started to talk to close family and friends about it. This felt natural for me and many people were very supportive.
Anyone who knew me and my husband would have known how broody we were and how much we were ready to be parents. We had been together for 7 years and were only 31, so, although we were very aware of the issue of Infertility and never presumed we would get pregnant quickly, we were still taken aback when the first 12 months of marriage passed and we hadn’t conceived. Each month I would be secretly excited and sure that I was pregnant – as I often felt pregnant – but each month my body let me down.
As a feminist, who knows that there is so much more to being a woman that being a mother or having a womb and breasts, I was surprised at how ashamed I felt. Why should I feel ashamed when this is nobody’s fault? I had read that 50% of known fertility problems are due to male infertility, yet I felt like a failure and less of a woman that something that should come so naturally just wasn’t happening. Every part of my being wanted this (I envied women who didn’t have that yearning), no matter how much I fought it, and I knew my husband craved it too.
I considered myself to be quite fearless about a lot of things, so if I felt ashamed, isolated and afraid, I realised that so many women and their partners would be feeling this way too.
Countless blood tests and procedures later, it was confirmed that there was nothing found ‘wrong’ with either of us and, in fact, on paper we were both very fertile. So fertile, that when we considered using donor eggs or donor sperm many IVF cycles later, we were told that I had top quality eggs and he had Olympic swimmers, and that there was no need.
Unlike some unhelpful people suggested, we weren’t trying too hard, or not trying enough. We talked to one another about everything and decided we’d try not to put our lives on hold. We’d live life to the full and not worry about it. We went out dancing, on holidays, skiing, climbed mountains, and became closer and more in love than ever. But not a month went by without a new pregnancy announcement from friends or family. Although I was happy for these people, it only reminded me of what my body couldn’t do.
Despite our sadness and disappointment every month, we considered ourselves so lucky that we had each other and we felt fortunate to live in a time when fertility treatment was available. Our first thought was to adopt, but we knew that this process was far from straightforward and could take many years – so it seemed that medical treatment (IVF) would be quicker, even with the long waiting lists.