I’ve really struggled to write a column for the last 6 months. Every time I sat down to write something, one subject would come to mind, like those irritating pop ups you just can’t close. I’ve finally got to a place where I can write about it, but it’s been a tough journey to get here.
A while back we decided we were ready to expand our tiny family unit. It was exciting and nerve-racking but we were ready for the next step in our lives. I was prepared for it to take a couple of months, carefully taking my folic acid every day and reading all the blogs. But those months came and went. In fact months and months went by as we hit milestones I never thought- or ever wanted- to hit.
Honestly, it feels like I’ve been through the stages of ‘trying to conceive grief’: the initial giddiness and excitement at trying, followed by the ‘hmm, this is taking longer than expected’– but still optimistic stage.
Then came the downwards spiral to the ‘cry-almost-everyday’ stage. Days where I have just about made it through work before bursting into tears as the car door swung shut- still sitting in the staff car park. Days when I stayed at home, isolating myself away from family and friends.
I once burst into tears when a red traffic light stopped me next to a Pampers billboard. All it took was a giant photo of a baby.
It took over every part of my life, creeping into every decision I made. I became hyperaware of my body: knowing what every twinge, backache, food craving signalled in my cycle. Hyperaware of all the pregnancy announcements and new mums around me.
I’ve counted down the hours to a ‘missed period’, praying that this month was the one.
Somehow I bumbled my way through GP appointments, scans, blood tests and slightly mortifyingly- going to see a specialist only to find I was being seen by someone I knew. Awkward.
But with annoying (but reassuring regularity) my period came. Month after month.
I’ve had moments of hating my body for not doing what it’s supposed to do– Genuinely feeling cheated by everything I learnt at medical school.
I’ve had to rebuild my self-worth. Remember that I’m not defined by my ability to get pregnant.
And I’ve had to go back to the basics with my faith. Relearn to be grateful for the things I do have and the countless blessings I’ve been given.
But that has not been easy. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional and physical toll that it’s taken. Put aside the pressure you put on yourself, and add on all those comments you naturally attract as a person with a uterus- you know the sort…
“You’ve been married for a long time, where are the kids?”; or “that’s great that you’ve got that award/passed that exam, but don’t forget life isn’t all about your career”
Or even the new enemy in my life: internet cookies. NO INTERNET I DON’T NEED YOU TO ADVERTISE PREGNANCY TESTS TO ME BEFORE I WATCH BEYONCE’S NEW VIDEO.
You end up feeling pretty darn miserable.
But worst of all I’ve felt completely and utterly alone. My husband is an absolute champ: hugs out all of my crying fits, provides me with endless bars of Fruit & Nut, love and reassurance. But it’s a really strange place to be.
You have to stop yourself from shaking the mums around you and grilling them on how long it took them to conceive, for them to share their stories, just so you can have something to hold on to.
So you feel like you’re not the only one.
I’ve been reaching out hoping someone grabs my hand and says: “it’s ok. I know what it feels like”. To say I’m not crazy even when I feel it (honestly, the pampers ad still gets me).
I’ve finally got to a place where each month is not defined by a negative pregnancy test. Part of me is fighting to be at peace, grateful not to have known the heartache of miscarriage like so many, while the other part of me is terrified by the idea that this may go on for years to come, knowing that we’re only at the start of this journey.
I still cry every period.
But I’m ok with that.
And I guess that’s why I’m writing this. In case you’re also feeling alone and reaching out your hand. Here is mine.
It’s ok. I know what it feels like. You’re not crazy.
If you’re worried about your fertility regardless of where you are on your journey, go have a chat with your GP. But here is the recommended advice:
You should see your GP if you haven’t conceived after 12 months of trying
You should see your GP sooner if you:
By Safa Brown
By Fatima Ahdash