the elephant in the room

As I sit waiting for my appointment at the Fertility Associates, the irony of the fact that I am simultaneously trying to entertain my rambunctious toddler – so he doesn’t loose his cool and disturb the peace – is not lost on me. But…

Here I am.

That’s right. I’m a mother to a beautiful, healthy, little boy who turns two next month, I’m having fertility issues… and I plan to write about it.

It’s not the done thing, really, is it? I’m not even sure how to go about it… but I do know that it will help me. And, if it helps one other person in the process – perhaps someone going through a similar experience – then that’s all that matters to me.

Firstly, I kind of feel a little awkward about the whole thing… I mean, I already have a child, so who am I to complain about my fertility problems – I should be grateful, right? I am grateful.

Let me please start by expressing the gratitude that I have, in abundance – for my health, my wonderful marriage, our healthy son, and the doctor who looked at me with deeply compassionate eyes this morning – when, after 6 months, I decided it was time to ask some questions and I came to him for help.

Whatever your circumstance, whoever you are – your desire to have a child is valid. You have every right to be a parent. And it’s OK to fight for it.

But it’s 2016 and we’re still not OK talking about infertility, are we? It’s such a highly sensitive and deeply personal experience, that no one really knows the rules. We can’t ask our friends or relations if they want to have children, in case it’s assumed we’re saying that they should. We’re not allowed to ask the newlyweds if they hope to start a family soon, in case they are trying and struggling and our question rubs salt into an unseen wound. We can’t ask our single friends if they might want children someday, because it’s insensitive to the fact that they don’t currently have a partner. We can’t ask anything at all, because it’s apparently none of our business and we’re making people feel bad.

I get it. I really, truly do. But of course – all we are creating is a society that can’t talk about it, even when we want to.

So many of us experience fertility issues, yet so few of us talk about it. And I guess all I want to do is put my story out there, as it unfolds, because I feel that I can. And so I should. For as long as I am able, anyway. With no expectations.

SO, HERE IS MY STORY:

I got my first period when I was 13 years old (on the first day of summer holidays, for goodness sake). I spent most of those days watching my siblings from the bathroom window, splashing around freely in the paddling pool, as my own childhood escaped between my legs. I didn’t want to tell my mother yet, but of course she knew everything already – so utterly excited to be able to talk with me about it all – this next, exciting journey in my life.

A whole year later, I finally got my next period. And so… it begins. A hormonal cycle as erratic as the English summer-time.

For 2 years my periods were irregular and painful and heavy. Blood tests always came back as “normal” and I was to “wait it out, you’ll regulate eventually.”

Aged 16, I went to the doctor again – who popped me onto a contraceptive pill and sent me home to get on with it.

Three years of “regular menstruation” later, I decided to take a break from the pill… mainly because I was off on my OE and wouldn’t have a budget for doctors appointments. How ironic… as it was 10 months later before I eventually got my next period, after countless doctors visits, blood tests, and enough herbal remedies to fund a small pharmacy. Consistently, I was told “nothing appears to be the matter” – and, once my periods returned, there was finally some level of regularity with 5-6 weekly cycles.

I should highlight that, throughout all of this, I was a very fit and healthy young woman with no known health or medical problems.

Aged 22 or so I went back on the pill – this time for genuine contraceptive reasons. Then, by age 26, I decided enough was enough – it was time to come off the pill for good, as the thought of becoming a mother someday (even though I was single at the time!) was getting closer. Being a mother is all I have ever, truly wanted – from as early as my memories begin.

At that time, another 6 months or so of no menstruation had passed before I went to see a doctor. It could be “early menopause” she said, “or, most likely, poly-cystic ovaries” she said with gravity. I left scared witless and carried on taking Dong Quai (and other herbal remedies).

As with the first time, nearly a whole year passed after I stopped talking the pill – before eventually my periods returned and then settled into a 5-6 weekly cycle.

By now, this was December 2012 – I had just moved in with my now husband, and we were married in November 2013.

On December 20th, 2013, I had a period that saw me deep breathing in the bath-tub for several hours, imagining myself in labour someday… and then, as I would later learn, I conceived my first baby on December 27th.

That’s right – on “day 7” of an otherwise 40 day cycle.

So what kind of normality do I have? None whatsoever, my friends! None, whatsoever.

Beau, my son, was born in September 2014 – I breast-fed him for nearly a year, and had 2-3 periods in the second half of 2015 (I didn’t really pay attention). At the start of this year, 2016, we started to talk about “trying for another baby,” so I started to take note of things again.

I had menstruated in December, again in February, not again until May (oh yes… after deciding we were ready to conceive again in March you can just imagine the relaxed time this was!), and then again in July… it’s now mid-August and I am certainly not pregnant.

I take excellent care of myself – with a good diet, regular exercise, and plenty of rest. My stress levels are minimal / none-existent, I meditate, and take supplements. I have regular chiropractic appointments and consider myself in great health overall. My husband and I still have the hots for each other and – because I have no idea when I actually ovulate – we’ve been banging away every other night for months on end. But I am most definitely not pregnant.

After finally visiting my (new and utterly wonderful) Doctor this morning, he confirmed what I had already suspected; I’m not ovulating. So it’s time now to start asking those questions, finding out why, and getting it sorted.

And so here I am.

I’m a mother to a beautiful, healthy, little boy who turns two next month, I’m having fertility issues… and I plan to write about it.

I’m not sure what to expect – but one thing I do know: life is good. Everything is, and will be, ok.

Much love and blessings,

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2 comments

  1. Beautifully told. From such simple (and maybe not so simple) biology our emotions and soul are sent into turmoil. I have a similar story. Fit and healthy and ovulated who knew when. I remember thinking “b – – – – -, my period will arrive for School Cert English” but I never got another one for 10 years. And within that 10 years I had my first son. When the Dr asked the date of my last period it really didn’t help with dates! It was conceiving next one that brought me to the brink of madness times. It seemed all consuming. With a little speciality help though eventually the family size doubled. There is significant age gap between my two sons yet they have alway been the best of friends and 27 years later they still are. Your journey will consume you at times too and one day (for no apparent reason at all) the next wee one will slip into your lives.

    • Oh Wendy! What an incredible story you have! Swept up with all the love and emotion, which your comment carries through it so vividly, I am awash with tears! Good tears, of course! Your support is so deeply felt and gratefully received. I especially love your comment “and one day (for no apparent reason at all) the next wee one will slip into your lives.” I think this might need to be typed and printed and placed on my Dream Board – on the wall above by desk – so I can mediate on this mantra over the coming… however long! I have so many blessings and so much to be grateful for. I will take this lesson of patience and have faith that my little one will one day arrive. Meanwhile, of course, nurturing the little man I am already blessed with. Lots of love to you and yours, Wendy. From me and mine. xxx

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