I started this blog in the hope that it would help people to understand what we have been through and hoped that it would help people struggling to know they aren’t alone. So far, it has been my version of events, my side of the story. I asked hubby a few months ago if he would like to write something for the blog. He said he would think about it. He thought about it and I’m so happy to now share what he has written about his side of our story…
So after a little bit of consideration I have agreed to write a piece for my wife’s blog. I have to say when she started talking about writing a blog about our infertility struggles I wasn’t sure about it. However, I’m so proud of what she has achieved and I have seen the huge amount of support she gets from and gives to people who are surviving this horrible daily struggle that is infertility.
So here goes my version of our story (or at least some of the story so far)…
I remember discussing infertility during the marriage counselling we had to go through before our wedding. I sat there thinking…why are we talking about this now, we will be OK, we have plans. 3 kids, nice house, a dog! What can get in the way of our future hopes and dreams. Oh boy how clueless were we…?
I remember the night everything in our life changed in what I will call the ‘discussion’. ‘What do you mean you think we should start thinking about having a family’. ‘OK I think we are ready. ‘It’s a scary thought but sure let’s do it’. That was the cue for some of the happiest times in our marriage. It’s full of hope, love, lust and romance and I remember it being a really happy time for us. Excited about our future and creating our family together.
However, 18 months later we were still no further forward and we were beginning to think maybe there were some issues. I went to see the Dr to see what his thoughts were, hoping to rule out any problems. The Dr was a young guy who said he would run some tests. This meant my first visit to the clinic to do what I now call ‘magicing the beans’. I had never been so embarrassed in all my life to get a pot from a really good looking nurse for me to fill. After she explained the procedure, showed me the ‘material’, she left me alone. With regards to the ‘material’ I now have a theory that the more expensive the clinic the better the ‘material’ is. Also, the only thing I can say about the UK is we are pretty vanilla, Greece has some really kinky stuff!
Personally, I am programmed to deal with adversity by making jokes about the situation. So when my friends used to ask how we were getting on I used to tell the about my experiences of being in fertility clinics and how I played my part in the whole IVF thing. My favourite story to tell them about was when a fire alarm at the hospital caused everyone to be evacuated including two chaps who were ‘mid stroke’ at the time. Cue me walking into a full waiting room of guys all knowing what the other one was going to do. So me being me I gave wink and a smile to the guy next to me I sat down with the immortal line of ‘nice day for it’. Finding some humour in our situation helps me to deal with it. One thing I will say to anyone who has to do this is not be worried or embarrassed about having to give a sample. In my experience the staff are generally great and do a great job to make you feel at ease. No one is judging you or what you have to do.
So after we got the results back from the GP and he said the line ‘just need a little help getting pregnant’ I lived for the next few years with the realisation that our fertility issues were all my fault. I had a low count and poor morphology. I felt guilt, shame and a sense of not knowing what to do with the hand we had been dealt. We had conversations about no longer being together. We talked about letting each other go so at least she could have the chance to be a Mum. Of course, it came to nothing but we came to realise that conversations about the future were important.
I think that this is where the NHS failed with their approach to our infertility. They offered us no tests on K at all and just put it down to me. Immediately we were then thrown into the world of fertility clinics and ultimately IVF.
After extensive and expensive tests we have both undergone through private treatment we now know that this is not all my fault. Raised NK cells for one thing. We have more recently found out that K had lots of scar tissue from endometriosis, but her constant pain was disregarded by the IVF clinics. We needed IVF and that was it. However, even with this knowledge, with every cycle we do, I still feel bad that I am putting the person who I love most in the world though huge amounts of physical and emotional pain. This for me is worse than what I was going through alone and this was the cause of some really dark times in our marriage.
Leaving her in hospital with severe OHSS on our wedding anniversary was one of the really low points for me. Seeing her then go through it a second time after we were assured it wouldn’t happen again was also horrendous. Watching her being so unwell, swelling up, unable to breathe properly and being sick all the time…whilst I could do nothing, we just had to wait it out…twice. The severe depression that she suffered as a result of failed treatment was also horrific to watch…trying to help but not being able to. Living through K reaching the lowest point and being so unwell, yet trying to hold us both together just so she would get through the day. No one said it would be like that. I thought IVF equalled baby.
Infertility is a team ‘sport’ and whilst at times it has been incredibly lonely for both of us, we have found it better for our relationship to face it together. We have not always been like this and our marriage has not been the fairytale I thought it might be. We have had times during the last 10 years where we have both nearly ended things, we have fought, shouted, swore, packed bags, and she even threw hair straighteners at me (they hit the skirting board and broke so I suppose it serves her right). I did possibly deserve that though. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that infertility changed everything for us, not just once, but time and again. We had hope that embryos would stick, when they didn’t we were crushed. New test results gave new hope, add another drug in and it will work. It didn’t. We went from ‘only needing a little help’ to needing a miracle.
Infertility hits you like a wave and the feelings it creates come and go. We struggle through those ‘family’ times like Christmas, reminding us of the family we wanted so much and even after 8 years of IVF we seem no further forward and in some ways we are completely left behind. We have, however, shared some unforgettable experiences together, lots of travelling and holidays, even if most were an attempt to recover from failed treatment.
One thing that has definitely helped us has been couples counselling. This took us from a very dark place in our relationship to where we are now. It has taken time and lots of talking, but it has been worth it. I would recommend to any couple faced with infertility to get help to navigate the choppy waters (or dangerous seas). I wish we had done this sooner as it has helped to bring us closer and now we can face whatever comes at us together.
A huge thank you to my hubby for being brave to share his side of the story. As we head towards another embryo transfer, I know whatever comes our way we will get through together