Great Expectations

Yesterday was my birthday! Yesterday was also the day I could finally take a pregnancy test, after my first month of fertility treatment.

It was negative.

But yesterday was actually the most positive day I’ve had for quite some time. Instead of feeling the weight of that disappointment, I felt overwhelmed with love, coming at me from all angles, as I was reminded of just how blessed I am to have so many wonderful, amazing, loving people in my life – people who had the ability to lift my spirit, even though they had no idea it needed lifting.

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I write about being positive, and it’s certainly a way I endeavour to live by – but that doesn’t mean it always comes naturally, easily, or even at all! Let me tell you honestly how it’s been:

After my initial consultation with the Fertility Associates (read here), followed by a plan of action (as per here) – I began my fertility journey feeling motivated, excited, and full of faith. I still am all of those things – but I didn’t expect this first month to be so arduous.

Things started well – as advised, I made the time to do 20 minutes of high-intensity cardio each day – I was off! It felt great to be able to do something really practical to help myself, and the effect of regular exercise on my overall well-being was as beneficial as it always is. I felt great!

Alongside this, I was given a course of drugs to bring on menstruation – and around two weeks later it finally came and I could officially begin my fertility treatment. Those first couple of weeks were definitely positive.

“Day 1” was the first day of my period and the start of my first cycle.

Days 3-7 saw me take 2 x pills each evening after dinner – these were my ovulation induction drugs. The effect on my mood was moderate – I was definitely sensitive and more easily upset, but overall I was still able to find those lovely feelings deep down and I clung onto them.

During this time, I became an Auntie again – for the third time – with my first little niece! She is absolutely gorgeous and it was instant love the moment I met her. I really enjoyed visiting her, and my brother and sister-in-law at the the hospital, and hearing all about her birth and feeling really close with them all.

Also during this time, some very special friends of mine told me they are expecting their first baby! I can’t begin to tell you how happy this makes me. They have had their own journey to get there – and are set to become such wonderful parents.

And to top it off – a dearly loved person in my life has finally conceived after a very long and very difficult journey. I was so overwhelmed with happiness, that so far I have been unable to express it to her. I know she will be feeling elated, but also fragile.

Day 10 and it was time to go for my scan to see if the drugs had worked. It was the day before my first born’s 2nd birthday and the day of a party we were hosting for a family friend who is battling cancer like a warrior. I had just come down with a cold, following Beau having one, so to say I was emotionally charged and feeling sensitive would be an understatement.

It was a really positive result – the drugs had worked! Both of my ovaries had developed a good number of follicles and the likelihood of ovulation was extremely high. Both doctors who saw me were lovely – I was so pleased to have had Nick and Beau there with me, too – but for some reason I couldn’t express how I was feeling to any of them. I was of course delighted with the result – but I also felt tired and exposed and vulnerable and as we walked to the lift I just wanted to cry and cry and cry. The lump in my throat and tears stinging my eyes made no sense whatsoever.

“Hi Hayley. Good time for intercourse from tomorrow. Min 4 days if poss.”

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There is a difference between making love and making a baby… a difference I was not aware of when I conceived Beau. There is a lot of pressure and great expectations. The first couple of days were quite exciting… but by the 3rd day I found myself to be so cold and irritable towards my husband, for no reason I could fathom at the time. I would even go as far as to say it was very difficult to let him touch me – I felt used and resentful and repulsed by the whole process, which in turn made me really confused and upset. “I can’t imagine we’ll ever have another baby!” I wailed at one point. My husband is truly the most gentle and kind of anyone I’ve ever met. He was struggling too… you can imagine the distress we were in! It was a really difficult few days for us. I’ve no idea what was going on in the rest of the world at that time. I cancelled plans and stayed at home for 3 full days. 4 – if you exclude one lowly supermarket trip.

After a SOS call of sorts to the Fertility Associates, we were soon laughing about the whole situation – reassured at how normal we were reacting, and told not to put so much pressure on ourselves. We talked it through, found a place of kindness and compassion, and, like all challenges we face, it brought us even closer together.

We were also told that I would likely have already ovulated by now – so we rejoiced in lots of early nights with our thermal PJs and respective books. Romance isn’t dead in this house, my friends!

We also allowed ourselves to believe that we could have conceived.

I dared to long for a girl.

The next week was a bit of a blur – the cold I caught from Beau was lingering, I had no energy to do my workouts, and, despite a building anxiety about this, ultimately I gave myself the grace I needed – and rested. It was a lovely week, actually. Calm and restful. I read a book.

Day 19 – I was scheduled to have a blood test to confirm if I had ovulated or not. I was convinced I had – but it was still a delight to get the text that afternoon: “Hi Hayley. Blood shows that you have ovulated. Please call us in 7-10 days if no period. Best wishes!” I took a screenshot.

And I bought myself a pregnancy test – placing it carefully on my bedside cabinet – as I waited for the moment of truth to arrive.

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I spent the next few days surreptitiously re-reading the instructions on the back of the packet, so I could re-calculate when would be my first chance to take the test. And wondering if my low immune system (the lingering cold) could be due to early pregnancy. And being certain that my boobs were sore and my sense of smell was heightened. And really over-analysing my text message which concluded with “best wishes!” Do they know something I don’t know yet?

I pictured a little cluster of dividing cells, moving their way through my Fallopian tube… probably the left one… and I suddenly remembered the surreal dream I had had, the very night after my first fertility appointment, where my old midwife sat with me and Beau in our living room:

“Hayley, you have a daughter in there,” she’d said, pointing to my midriff. “She’s not ready to come, yet. But she’s in there.”

I had believed it. It felt divine.

And now that my first pregnancy test has come back negative – I believe it more than ever.

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Over the last 24 hours – in the moments of stillness I’ve had (few admittedly) – I’ve questioned timing. Is this the right time? Am I really ready? Is my body in the best shape and health it could be? And I realised the answer is no. There is never a “right” time. You are never “ready.” You just are. It just is.

I think it’s OK to have this longing. And it’s OK to step right into that dark and uncertain space and to feel comfortable and loved whilst there.

It currently feels right for me to be open about my journey – and I’ve been so moved by the number of people contacting me with messages of support, and stories of their own. I know I’m not the only person going through this and I know I won’t be the last. I intend to keep writing and sharing my experiences, for as long as I feel able to.

And I will continue to move forward through this – not without expectations – but taking life, as I should – one day at a time.

A special lady recently wrote to me… “Your journey will consume you at times, and then one day (for no apparent reason at all) the next wee one will slip into your lives.” – I truly believe it.

‘Til then!

Love and blessings,

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