As 2017 comes to an end, it seems timely to reflect on the year that has just passed. For many years we had entered a new year hoping that by the end of the year we would either have a baby or that I would be carrying our baby. Sadly that has never been the case. We entered 2017 with a very different priority and that was for our marriage to survive. At the end of 2016 we were in tatters and quite honestly we both struggled to see a way forward. Thankfully, a year later we are in a very different position and again we will enter 2018 with renewed hope in our hearts that we may one day soon have a family. But, how did we get here?
January we sought help with our relationship from a counsellor. It felt like we might not make it through the month but both of us wanted desperately to try and make it work. One thing became clear very quickly, we had stopped talking. Both of us were scared to say what we were thinking and feeling about our future to the other, so instead we were silent. Counselling helped us to start to talk again. It helped us to think about what we both wanted for our future and ultimately it led us to make some decisions. The month saw us consider adoption much more seriously than we had done previously. It was also the month that we made the decision that it wasn’t an option for us. The door closed on that route for us and finally I was at peace with that decision, knowing for us it was the right one.
February we travelled to India. I had always wanted to visit what looked to be an amazing country. Winter holidays had become our new norm and rather than sit by a pool for 2 weeks we decided to go on a tour and then finish with 5 nights in Goa. We had an amazing time, met some lovely people and we have memories that will last a lifetime. The highlights for me were visiting the majestic Taj Mahal and seeing Tigers in the wild on one of the safaris that we took. Something shifted in our relationship during our trip away and when we got home there was a renewed sense of togetherness. Something that I had hoped for but hadn’t expected.
March & April there was lots of discussion about more IVF treatment. I just couldn’t see a way forward, couldn’t see how I was ever going to step into another clinic, how I was going to trust another medical professional and how I would ever put me and us through another treatment cycle. It wasn’t going to happen. I continued with counselling, I needed an outlet and someone to talk things through with. I felt like I was going round in circles and wasn’t getting anywhere fast. Yet the more I talked about it, the more it seemed like I would be ok, that we would be ok. A breakthrough for us came towards the end of March and I agreed that we would start to look for a new clinic. After a few weeks of filling the on-line form out and deleting it, I finally sent it off in Early April. This was it, we were facing this again.
May we waited for our appointment.
June came and we met our new consultant for the first time. It was like a breath of fresh air. He actually listened. We decided on a further test for hubby, the Sperm Aneuploidy test. Hubby’s DNA frag test had come back ok previously so we didn’t repeat it. This test looks for chromosome abnormalities in the sperm. We had tested just about everything else so why not? We waited for a further 4 weeks for the results.
July we had the follow up at the fertility clinic and the results of the sperm test. They were in the normal range. We had a new plan. We had a treatment protocol and so we headed into August expecting to start IVF at the end of the month.
July was also the month that this blog, Strength Through Infertility came to fruition.
I had the idea and the name a few months earlier, but with lots of encouragement from hubby & my counsellor, I wrote my first blog. I wasn’t sure if anyone would read it or find it helpful but for me it was the start of something new, something raw, something honest and something that has opened my eyes and heart to those around me who also find themselves struggling through infertility. It was a special month.
August didn’t see the start of IVF, it saw me being referred to a gynecologist because of immense pain throughout my July cycle. Knowing that we wouldn’t be having IVF in August we took the opportunity to take a holiday in the sun. Menorca was the destination of choice and we had a lovely time. We came back ready to face what was next. The gynae suspected endometriosis and so sent me for a laparoscopy. I knew from my cycle in Greece that I had a polyp so I also convinced her to carry out a hysteroscopy to remove it. Sometimes it pays to be a bit pushy. Within 2 weeks of seeing the gynae I was being wheeled into the operating theatre for the procedures. They found that my bowel and uterus were fused together with scar tissue. There was no active endo but they removed as much scar tissue as they could. Could this be one of the reasons that the embryos never implant? We will never know but at least the pain eased as a result.
September & October I recovered from the surgery and started to make preparations for IVF in November. Healthy eating took priority as did preparing myself mentally for a fresh IVF cycle. Counselling sessions and acupuncture kept me grounded & focused. There were plenty of wobbles, second guessing and “I can’t do this” moments but I got there.
November was a month of waiting. Waiting for the end of the month to start IVF again. 20 months since our last cycle and here I was facing the prospect of putting myself through it all again. What was I doing? I can tell you what I was doing. Panicking. Lots of panicking. The end of the month came, the first injection was done and we were actually doing this again.
December began and we were part way through our cycle. Early December we found out that we had 6 perfect blasts to freeze. It was better that we could ever have hoped for. It was also the month that I found myself at risk of redundancy at work. Christmas also caused its usual emotional havoc with me. Lots of ups and downs, but I survived, with the help and support of some amazing people in the virtual world.
And so there it is. What a year.
Even through the heartache of infertility I managed to have a positive and productive year. I know there are times when I won’t feel ok, I know there are times when it hits me, seemingly from no-where. I also know that I have a great support network in place and I have some strong scaffolding around me holding me up when I need it.
I found a new on-line tribe in the Twitter and blogging world. A tribe that helped me through some tough times, a tribe that ‘gets it’.
Writing this blog has helped me reach out to others, I have connected with people all over the world, I have written articles, blogs and recorded a podcast. I never expected any of those things to happen, but they have and it’s amazing!
I found the strength to start to help others on their own journeys through my volunteer work with Fertility Network UK.
I found renewed confidence which helped me to go back to college and start a new journey of learning. My own healing and self discovery through counselling has put me onto a path that I never thought I would step onto. I have loved every minute and I can honestly say that for the first time in a while I feel like I have found something that just makes sense to me, something just clicks. I’m not sure that counselling is in my future career plan but right now I feel at home when I’m learning about it.
Finally, this year I discovered that my future is bright whatever it holds. I know I am going to be ok, I know that we are going to be ok.
All that is left to do it wish each and every one of you a Happy New Year & to say a massive THANK YOU for reading and supporting us on our journey. It means more than you will ever know…