Making a House a Home

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Over the last year I’ve found myself picking little projects around the house to keep myself distracted from our struggles with conceiving number 2. Most of them involved cleaning or rearranging rooms because it doesn’t cost anything and could take me anywhere from a couple hours to a couple days depending on what I needed. Luckily for me, Distraction is something I do very well.

Recently, my favourite way to take my mind off things has been rearranging our living room. We had it the same way for three years and since then our needs have changed; whilst it worked perfectly when Evie was smaller because we could use the floor to it’s full advantage, what we really needed was a dining table. The rearrange centred around getting a table in the space we have without it taking over the room; we live in England where houses are smaller and we have a two bed flat, limiting our space even further. I also wanted to focus on making the space visually enjoyable and calming as I suffer from a lot of anxiety and my surroundings can make or break my mood; we rent our flat and I find when you rent, your space can often not feel like your home.

I am really happy with the way the living room works now, we have the table that we wanted and can have family meals together. What’s more, everyone who has been to visit since has told me that the room actually feels bigger. Awesome! Below are some pictures of some of the new bits that we’ve added to give the room a freshen up, I like to do this every few years as I feel it stops the space being uninspiring and can change the mood of a room, without having to fork out the time and money repainting it all.

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I love our table, it’s solid pine and we picked it up at a local charity shop for £70! It has really cute heart cut outs on the legs and has a farm house style, which means there’s more leg space underneath and it takes up less floorspace overall. It is much slimmer than most tables we looked at but we seldom have people over to eat so for the three of us it’s perfect and means we have an extra place for any of Evie’s friends that want to visit for dinner.

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Both my husband and I love art and photography and while we have a lot of pieces that are regularly displayed around the flat, we do like to swap some pieces out every now and then just to keep them enjoyable – and it gives me an excuse to pick up some more! The gallery wall was something we have been meaning to do since we got married, but we didn’t have a wall with the right space to do it until now. We picked frames up over a couple of months to spread the cost and picked photos from our recent holiday and our wedding. It’s still not finished but i’m being rather fussy with the pictures i want displayed and I want to take my time over it.

The Thai Buddha print was something I fell in love with the moment I saw it. It looks like it’s been embossed and has such a serene tranquil quality about it that it was a must buy; I found it at our local Homebase for £10.

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This is one of my favourite DIY’s i’ve ever done. I’ve seen a lot of framed initials floating round on Pinterest and it was something that I really wanted to add to our gallery wall. I picked up the frame at a pound shop, the letter was £2 from Hobby craft and the tissue paper and backing card came to £4, meaning the whole project was done for under £10; much more purse friendly than the made to order ones which are anything from £20+.

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These are another DIY that i did a few months ago. I was at my local garden centre’s pot recycle bin when i spotted these four terracotta pots in rather bad shape. They had mould spots on them and were in need of some time and attention but I knew they could be made new again. After a soapy hot scrub, a few coats of acrylic paint and some lace detailing, many think they were shop brought. I use them for my Succulent collection which gives me a lot of enjoyment. I was never one to have house plants when i was younger but it’s amazing how some fresh greenery can really make your space calmer and feel more alive.

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I hope that you enjoyed a little look into my home and some of the DIY’s i’ve been adding to our space. I’m sure in time I’ll change out or rearrange again but for now, the room flows nicely and is a nice, calming space to come back to after a mad day with Evie at the local soft play – which is all I want, really.

The Results Are In

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When we discovered it had been another six months of unsuccessful trying after my ectopic we decided it was time to seek some medical help. I had been told after my operation at the hospital that due to it being my third loss, I should be eligible for testing, just to check that there isn’t something else at the root of the problem. So I booked an appointment with my GP and went to have a chat about the tests and what exactly was going to happen.

My doctor was not the most helpful of fellows. He tried to tell me that because I had technically conceived with my ectopic that he wouldn’t test me for reasons of infertility and because we had an answer to why my last pregnancy ended, he wouldn’t test me for unexplained loss either. Have you ever seen ‘The Nightmare before Christmas’? The mayor has two faces that he can switch between according to his mood, one happy, one not. Let’s just say my unhappy face got snapped on and the doctor got to listen to a rather eloquent five minute rant about why he was wrong and why he was going to give me the blood test forms. I got the forms.

The tests I was given were to take place between cycle day 2-5 (base hormone levels) and day 21-23 (progesterone levels to indicate ovulation). As I have mentioned before most cycles are around 28 days but I happen to know mine is 30 days, so I did the bloods at the higher end of the window, on days 5 and 22. At the same time my Husband was told it would be a good idea for him to have a sperm analysis done, just so we had a whole picture of what we were dealing with.

My First lot of bloods came back rather quickly; according to the doctor everything was fine, well within normal limits across the board. This was what I expected to be honest, I’ve had hormonal bloods done before and there’s never been an issue with my levels. My second lot of results came back a few days ago and after a lot of calls to the doctor to get the levels (for some reason the receptionists can’t give you this even though it’s on the screen in front of them) I was told that my result was boarder line at 30. After consulting Dr Google I have come to find that 30 is the cut off for what is deemed a normal result, ovulation should have occurred with that result although it may have occurred earlier in my cycle than we thought. Needless to say the Doctor was not convinced so I’ve got to repeat the bloods again on cycle day 22 next month.

My husband did his sperm analysis – I was rather annoyed at first that my husband seemed to get the better test compared to the needles involved with mine, but on the day of his appointment our daughter was off sick from preschool. This resulted in him trying to produce a sample in our locked bathroom, whilst Evie sat outside the door shouting ‘Daddy!’ and serenaded him on her Hello Kitty keyboard. He’s a trouper and produced a sample anyway. His results came back a week later and everything looks really good, in fact when he walked in with the test results he exclaimed ‘I’m not sure if I’m reading this right, but if I am, I have super sperm!’ I’m not going to deny him boasting rights after the bathroom fiasco. His results were higher than average across the board, so we’re confident at this point that if there is an underlying issue, it’s probably going to be with me.

For now I guess we just wait, I have another three weeks before I can have my bloods done again so there’s not a lot more we can do at this stage. My results weren’t all that bad and I’m confident that knowing my body, I probably just ovulated earlier than the average person and so had low progesterone by the time I had the bloods done. The good news for me though is that my daughter is now off for the summer, I have my birthday coming up in a few weeks and my little sister is back from University in Wales, so there is a lot to keep me distracted until then. I am trying to keep a ‘whatever will happen, will happen’ approach to it all, but I have the patience of a toddler; so I’m not entirely sure how long that will last!

Two Week Wait Gremlins

For anyone who doesn’t know, the Two Week Wait (TWW) refers to the length of time between when a woman ovulates/ her most fertile day and the day her next menstrual cycle is due to start; which is when most people would take a pregnancy test. If you search for this on Google you will find thousands of results with message boards of women all detailing their ‘symptoms’ during the TWW and if it lead to a positive or negative result at the end (most of the time threads just end with no result being given – annoying!) Now many are divided as to whether any symptoms experienced in this time frame are actually pregnancy related or are coincidence, saying that until the egg has implanted and your HCG level starts to rise, you can’t get any symptoms. Some women claim to ‘just know’ and I’m sure some do go on to have positive tests. But I’ve ‘just known’ twice this year and both times have been negative cycles. On top of that I’ve had these ‘symptoms’ nearly every month, leading to unnecessary testing and a lot of tears.

Many believe that if a woman wants to be pregnant badly enough, she may fabricate symptoms or her body may create symptoms for her and for me I think that was the case on many occasions – do not underestimate the power of your mind.

A few years ago when I went through counselling for a particularly crippling bout of depression and anxiety, my lovely therapist Sue told me to imagine my depression as a thing (an animal/shape/monster – I chose a monkey) and deal with it an actual thing, rather than a faceless feeling. It worked pretty well and I even ended up naming my monkey, Dave, which lead to rather interesting conversations with Sue; “Dave’s asking for attention again” being the most repeated phrase.

I decided a few months ago to adopt the same method in dealing with my TWW, I was getting more fraught with anxiety and hopelessness each month and if I could do something to make myself relax with it then all the better. This time around, after much thought, I decided my TWW anxiety was a Gremlin; cute and cuddly most of the month but you unknowingly feed it after midnight of your most fertile day and it turns into a horrid little thing that multiplies rapidly and lives to create chaos and misery.

Copyright - Warner Brothers Pictures
Copyright – Warner Brothers Pictures

The first week they’re not too bad, giving me odd twinges and fatigue but nothing out of the ordinary there; maybe a bit of bloating and the occasional wave of nausea towards the end of the week but nothing that I notice and nothing that starts getting me thinking maybe this was the month. The Gremlins are manageable at this stage, I go on with my week mostly forgetting that I’m waiting to test and dealing with life problems – I probably clean at little too much at this stage too, cleaning relaxes me and gives me a focus; if you ever find me cleaning, something’s probably wrong.

The second week is where the Gremlins hit their stride. Experts say that implantation happens around days 7-10 after ovulation; I know this and so do the Gremlins, so suddenly; I have Gremlins desperately trying to get my attention. They start with a little tummy pain, and then comes the lower back pain, the breast tenderness and more nausea. Towards the end of the second week I’m peeing every hour, am exhausted, emotional and crying for no reason (in reality I’ve probably just listened to a bit too much Sia) and I’m convinced, and I mean CONVINCED, that this month it worked and we’re finally pregnant. I go out and buy a test (or four) and wait for the day before my period to approach so I can test. Some months I make it, other months I end up testing a few days earlier and making up excuses as to why it’s negative; excuses like ‘it’s too early to test’ – it’s an ironic, vicious cycle.

And then I get my period. And the Gremlins, quite happy with their chaos and having received enough attention, go back to their lovable cute former selves until we start the whole thing over again two weeks later.

I don’t know if other women go through a similar monthly ritual, which usually ends with a teary sacrifice to the God of Chocolate but from all that I’ve seen it seems like many of us experience some degree of this. Trying to conceive becomes like an obsession for me, the prize (a healthy viable pregnancy) seems to be constantly out of reach and the desperation for something, anything to work is overwhelming. I try to relax with the whole process but as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a control freak through and through, relaxing over something I have no control over is like asking someone not to jump when you shout ‘Boo’ right behind them. It’s not going to happen. So I will patiently await my Gremlins to concoct some new havoc in the next week and see if this is the cycle we win.

Hi God, Are You There?

At some point in a person’s infertility journey, after months of unsuccessful cycles and heartache, they tend to start asking why. Why us? Why can’t I have a child? Why have three other people announced a pregnancy in the last month? Why is this fair? I’m a good person, I have the room and am financially prepared for another child, I have all the love in the world to give to another child, and so why is it that out of all the people I’m the one who can’t have one?

I’ve never been a particularly religious person. As a child I was a member of the Brownies and part of that was attending church on a Sunday, but my family wasn’t religious and to me, going to church meant I got a biscuit so, understandably at 7 years old, I was quite happy to attend. As I got older religion became a smaller and smaller part of my life, I think it did for a lot of people my age but it left me feeling lost and alone. I wouldn’t call myself an atheist because I don’t flat out deny that there isn’t something out there watching over me and protecting me but I prefer to call it fate or destiny instead of God. That being said, a few months ago I began to ask a lot of why questions and I turned to religion to see if it could help and guide me to the answers I’d been looking for. Not knowing anyone particularly religious, I went online and started looking through message boards and Christian websites to see if they could answer my questions.

Earlier the same day I had seen a story being shared on social media about a child that was dumped in a bin in Mexico because it was born with a disability. His mother had decided, I’m guessing, that because of said disability she couldn’t cope with him and so she put him in a BLACK BAG and left him near a dumpster to die (the boy was found by a local carpenter and is now living in America, after being adopted by a lovely family). A few days before that I read about how a father had left his two sons in the bath so he could go and play a video game for half an hour and both the boys drown; A few days before that I read about how a woman had killed her baby and then took it shopping with her in a stroller. And I wanted to know WHY?! Why were these people, these horrid, awful people allowed to have children and I was not. I have a loving home and infinite love to give to a child but I am denied whilst people like this are able to have children when they want. It was the injustice of it all, it didn’t seem to matter if I was a good or bad person, God didn’t seem to care that I would love a child no matter if they were born mentally or physically disabled, I would love them because they were my child and nothing could make me love them any less.

I have written a couple posts on various religious message boards and have got mixed responses. Some say that He gives you lessons and wisdom through suffering and I can understand that in part – I have learnt a lot more about myself and through this hardship my husband and I have made our marriage stronger and our bond greater. I have had some say that God allows good to happen to others when the bad happens to you and that got me through my miscarriages; the hope that because I couldn’t keep my child, a woman who had been trying for years would finally get hers. This goes a little way to answering some of the questions I have, but I’m still searching for answers, not just to this particular part of my life but to all of it and to suffering in general. I believe there is a reason I’m not supposed to have another child right now, I’ve just got to allow the answers to reveal themselves.

I still don’t think you could call me a Christian, but I am keeping my mind and my heart open to everything. I still feel lost and a little empty not having faith in my life but I’m just trusting that this is the path that I’m supposed to be on and eventually, all the pieces will fall into place one way or another.

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Change of Plans

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Most of us have always had an idea of how we want our lives to go. Some of us are super organised with 5 or even 10 year plans, detailing a clear schedule of what we want done and when and others just have an idea or feeling of what we want and when we want it. I know for me, I fall into the latter category. I’ve always had an idea of what I wanted for myself, I knew when I was 19 that I was going to marry my husband but didn’t know when or how and that was ok with me. We got engaged when I was 22 and married at 25. With children I had a similar feeling, I knew very early that I wanted children, as did my husband, but we didn’t really give ourselves a time frame. All I knew is that I wanted two children and I wanted to have both of our children before I was 30. I don’t have any problems with older mothers who have children in their 40’s – if that works for you then fantastic, but for us, we knew that we wanted to start our family in our 20’s because that’s what would work best for us.

After our miscarriages we did wonder if children would be on the cards at all for us but we welcomed our daughter when I was 23, fitting into my life plan nicely. For the first year after having my daughter I wasn’t sure if I still wanted two children. I’m not sure if it was because the birth was complicated (see ‘My Birth Story’) or if it was because I was a new mum and the thought of dealing with another tiny little thing scared the hell out of me; but for the time being I was happy to let life do what it wanted.

When we did start to discuss more children the big question was what kind of age gap we wanted our children to have; I knew I didn’t want to have another just yet as I wanted to really enjoy my daughters first few years but I also knew that I didn’t want a really large age gap either. My husband is a middle child, with an older brother and younger sister, all four years apart from each other and I’m the eldest of three girls. There’s two years between my middle sister and I, and we’ve never really gotten on very well; but my youngest sister and I have always had a great relationship and we have three years between us, so that’s what I wanted to aim for.

We started trying when Evie turned 2 and managed a pregnancy last September that ended in ectopic and have been unsuccessful ever since. I’m almost 27, which means I’m edging closer and closer to my 30 goal (and my peak of fertility), I’m down to one tube after my ectopic and I have no idea if another child is going to happen for us at the moment. My plan of having both children and then returning to work looks like it may have to change, my daughter will be starting full time education next September and if at that point we don’t have another child then I will be returning to work.

Being the control freak that I am, not having a solid plan is extremely hard to deal with at times. I feel lost and it causes me a lot of anxiety and depression. It’s really hard to explain but it’s like you’re waiting to get on with your life because you’re hoping that another child will become a reality some day and you don’t want to start a new chapter of your life without them. It’s like being in limbo, you don’t know what’s going to happen so you can’t really make any plans for the future.

I’ve never been in this position before and to be honest, I’m not coping well with it at all. Many couples suffering from primary or secondary infertility go through this and not having any answers is something that a lot of us struggle with. If someone could give me a yes or no answer to my having another child in the future then I could proceed with my life with a clearer plan but alas, I’ve yet to find someone with a fully functional crystal ball. For the time being, I’m learning to create multiple plans and following the one that suits my current situation – I think I’m currently on plan E, but there’s another 21 letters, so we’ll see how we go!

My Birth Story

It dawned on me yesterday that my beautiful daughter will be 4 in October, 4! It sounds stranger each time I say it, but whenever it comes close to her birthday, I’m always taken back to the day she was born and the journey that got us here. I wanted to share my birth story as I really like hearing other peoples and it’s a reminder that just like our children, no two births are the same.

My pregnancy was rather straight forward, I had some early scans due to my previous history (see ‘The Story So Far’) but everything happened exactly as it should. We found out at our 20 week scan that we were having a girl and for some reason, really struggled to pick a name. We had names coming out of our ears for a boy, but every name we brought up for a girl was discarded by me or my husband for whatever reason. After a lot of back and forth there was only one name that we both loved, Evie. My grandmother is Evelyn (although everyone calls her June) and we thought it was fitting that her first great grandchild bore her name.

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At 32 weeks we had another scan and were told that Evie was breech with her head up under my ribs. It’s very common at that stage of a pregnancy for a baby to be breech and turn later on just before the birth and we were asked to come back at 36 weeks for another scan, just to check on her position. We tried everything in those four weeks to get her to move, we read a lot of old wives tales, shining light at the bottom of my belly, blasting loud music near my ribs, my husband talking at my lady parts for hours on end in the hopes she would be drawn towards his voice. It was very entertaining but ultimately did nothing. When we went back for the next scan she was still in the same position and the sonographer noticed that she had managed to wrap her umbilical cord around her neck – understandably, she couldn’t be turned.

They spoke to us about all our options and then scheduled us in for a c section for the end of my 38th week with the understanding that there was still time for her to turn and plans could change. This all took place on Thursday, my husband had taken a week off work to finalise some baby bits and to spend some time with me before our new arrival joined us. On the Friday, we had our car seat and bracket installed, I thought about packing a hospital bag but knowing we’d been booked in for the section decided it could wait, I was exhausted and so we just watched films all evening. I sat there uncomfortable and swollen and whispered to my bump ‘mummy’s bored now, you can come out if you want’. This would be the first and possibly only time she actually listened to me.

My waters broke at 5am on Saturday morning. I woke up thinking I’d had an accident during the night and hurried to the bathroom but after a frantic call to my mother, decided it was best to call the hospital. I explained everything to them and was told to come straight in. I applaud my husband for his calmness during that drive. I was freaking out; all I could think was it was too early, I was 37 weeks and I wasn’t prepared. When we arrived we had a scan to check baby’s position but she was still breech and after a speculum check (if you’ve not had this, think two nurses in miners’ hats using something that looks like a duck bill to look at your cervix. Yes, it’s as classy as it sounds) It was decided that an emergency C-Section would be required.

It all went very fast from there. We were taken to Theatre; I had a drip put in, a local anaesthetic in my back and a spinal block. After I was settled and the screens had gone up so I couldn’t see past my chest, all I felt was pressure and rocking. When a section is performed the surgeons make a small incision and then pull on the edges of the skin to stretch and widen the hole to get the baby out, my guess is that it minimises scarring.

The next thing I remember is her cry. They brought her out from behind the curtain and she was so tiny and managed an equally small cry before my husband cut the cord and she was taken to be weighed. She was born 5lb 7oz and was hypoglycaemic. She was kept with me on the ward for 12 hours being fed frequently from a bottle to up her intake but after several heel prick tests came back with no improvement it was decided she should be admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for a drip to give her the sugars she needed. It was the hardest two days of my life. She was so tiny and she was my first child, I was scared for her and spent most of my time in the hospital crying. I had heard the first few days were vital for bonding, as was breast feeding and I’d been denied both due to our circumstances. Once her bloods were normal, she was allowed back on the ward with me and we left the following day; after my husband had brought me some clothes (I never did pack my hospital bag) and had been shopping for tiny baby vests.

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The birth was not ideal and it definitely didn’t follow any of the plans that I’d set out but my daughter was born happy and healthy and for that I am thankful. I tried to breast feed but after the bottle for the first week, she really didn’t want anything else and so we decided to continue with that and I expressed milk to feed her. I really shouldn’t have worried about our bonding, I fell in love with her the second I saw her and everyone could see we bonded very quickly. I’d just like to say that there will always be that mum/dad who makes you feel bad for not breast feeding or having a completely natural childbirth, but for me, knowing that I did the right thing for me and most importantly for my daughter, is more important than the approval of anyone else.

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Every Little Helps

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Last month we had a break from our regular trying routine; we’d had another 6 months of being unsuccessful and although we didn’t stop trying all together, we were far more laid back with our approach. Needless to say, we were still unsuccessful, so after a lot of research and many hours reading reviews we have decided to introduce a few new things. I thought it might be helpful to share the things we’re trying in case anyone else wants something to shake up their baby making.

Pre Seed

We were sceptical to try this for a while, I’ve never had a problem with dryness and honestly I didn’t understand how lube would help. From what I’ve been reading, this particular lube is PH balanced to mimic your own fertile fluids and basically just helps the little swimmers get to where they need to go faster and easier (my Husband likened it to turning me into a Slip-N-Slide!). You can add between 1 – 4 grams of Pre seed up to half an hour before you start any activity and the particular pack that I purchased comes with 9 disposable plunger applicators – which is more than enough for your fertile week. I purchased mine from Amazon for £15.99, which to me isn’t that bad of a deal. One pack will last us a month (maybe a little longer) but the majority of reviews are glowingly positive with many having success after just two months – I like those odds.

The reason we’ve decided this might be helpful for us is that after my ectopic pregnancy last year, and losing my right tube, my fertility has decreased. Basically I have one tube trying to catch eggs from both ovaries, it moves from one ovary to the other depending on which side I ovulate from that month; well that’s the plan anyway. There is the chance that the tube won’t move, I won’t ovulate from the side it’s on that month or that it will get there too late for the egg to be viable, which is why my fertility has decreased by 15%. My thoughts are that anything I can do to get the swimmers there to meet the egg when it’s released will help our overall chances, so long as the tube is on the correct side. Speed is our friend in this situation.

The ‘Sperm Meets Egg’ Plan

When I read the title of this on a message board a couple of months ago, my initial response was ‘well yeah! Surely that’s the plan for everyone, right?’ It took me a while to come back to it but when I did and had done some proper reading, the plan actually made sense and was similar to the advice we were given by our Doctor. A brief outline of the plan is as follows:

  • From cycle day 8 onward you do the dance with no pants every other day, so that’s CD8, CD10, CD12, CD14, CD16 etc.
  • If you know when you ovulate, through temping or ovulation sticks, you need to do the no pants dance for three consecutive days over that period. So, if you ovulate on CD 14 you need to do CD14, CD15, CD16 or CD13, CD14, CD15 and then continue your alternate days from there.

The plan makes sure that there are swimmers there at all times, just in case ovulation is early or late as they can live for several days after being deposited and the frequency of every other day is so that the sperm is of the best quality and also so you don’t tire yourselves out after the first week! I find this plan the most realistic and easiest to follow, we have a child and she hates sleep, so it’s not always possible to get stuff done, if you know what I mean. My husband works long hours, I’m busy with our daughter and housework all day and come 11 o’clock, we’re pretty tired. The pattern gives us a day to rest in between, meaning we have more energy on the nights we need to make sure we’re ‘dancing’ and it’s still enjoyable for us both.

BBT Tracking (Temping)

This is something I heard about a couple of years ago but not knowing much about it, went in favour of ovulation sticks instead. I have found over the years that whilst the sticks are easy to use, there are many factors that can affect the result – time of day, concentration of urine etc and I found a lot of the time it was easy to become rather obsessive. Taking two or three a day from CD10 ‘just in case’ I missed the positive that I was waiting for, meant after almost two years of using them with no success, I was ready to give something else a go. I find the whole process of temping to be much easier and the results are interpreted with more accuracy. You plot your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) everyday on a graph; along with a description of cervical mucus and after a couple of months, you should see a pattern and a slight temperature spike around ovulation. You take your temperature first thing in the morning, at the same time with a BBT thermometer which is accurate to two decimal places; we got ours from Amazon for £5. This is much easier for me to handle, I get it out of the way before I do anything else, it’s one reading a day and I can enter it into my fertility tracker on my phone, which then plots the points for me. It may take a few months to see a pattern but I would recommend it over the ovulation sticks for anyone trying to conceive as there’s no ambiguity and no second guessing (as long as you are temping correctly).

This may seem like a full-on uterus assault, but that’s kind of what we were going for! We’re in the mind set at the moment that every little helps and these are all things we have not tried before. I would love to hear from anyone who has tried any of these, please share your experiences in the comments if you’d like to.

The ‘Helpful Bunnies’ are coming!

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One of the things I’ve found, with any problem I’ve had is that as soon as you start talking about it, certain people will repeatedly try and offer you some sort of ‘helpful’ advise, that is given with the best intentions but ultimately fails to hit the mark – I have come to call them my ‘Helpful Bunnies’. I’m sure most people have dealt with this in their infertility journey, but I wanted to address a few of the more common ones that I have experienced and discuss why these Helpful Bunnies really need to give them a rest.

 “Just stop trying!”

This is usually followed up with an anecdote about themselves or someone close to them who gave up hope of ever having another child (after something like 6 months of trying) and then BAM! Pregnant city. The thing is, I wish I could just give up. The torture of going through cycle after cycle with no positive at the end of it for almost two years is a heartache I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But this piece of advice is particularly annoying because it’s not really advice at all. I am trying so hard because I want it so bad and I would rather not give up on my dream in the hopes that doing so would result in pregnancy. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

“But you already have a child, what’s the problem?”

This is the one that hurts more than anything else. I am aware that I am in the fortunate position of having a child, something which I know a lot of couples are really trying for. I know that because of said child a lot of people struggle to see what my problem is – I have one, I should be happy. But this does not take away from the fact that I WANT another child. It’s a feeling that I struggle to describe, it’s a whole body feeling, an ache, a pain. I don’t want to have another child because I am displeased with the one I already have, far from it! I love my daughter with everything that I am and I want another child to love In the same way. I am one of three children, as is my husband and although there may have been times growing up where I didn’t see eye to eye with my siblings, I am so eternally grateful for them and to all the fun we shared together as children. It hurts my heart that I can’t give that to my daughter.

“Have you tried Ovulation sticks?”

Why yes, super helpful person, I have. I have been trying for almost two years to have another child. I think if I hadn’t given them a go, I wouldn’t be quite so upset and confused as to why my stupid body is not working properly.

“I did (Insert random activity here) and got pregnant within a month, you should try that”

This one can be helpful, I love hearing about new fertility products but it goes into Helpful Bunny territory when it’s either something that would clearly have no effect on conceiving or I’ve already tried it but the person talking to me brings it up every time they see me. Here is the thing, whilst I understand that some activities have some benefit to reproduction, most really have no effect and it’s pure coincidence. This helpful bunny was probably going to become pregnant that month regardless of said activity/supplement and if I tried everything everyone suggested because it worked for them, I’d probably end up hindering my chances of conceiving and drive my husband mad! It’s fantastic that hot yoga/ massage/ running/ liquorish root worked for you but everyone is different, every pregnancy is different and constantly bringing it up as though it is an instant miracle cure is not helpful.

“It could be worse”

This one touches on “you already have a child” but without being as obvious in the wording; usually doled out by a helpful bunny who insists that everyone looks on the bright side but doesn’t want to give any actual help. It’s the vagueness of this that irritates me, the fact that they haven’t said how or why it could be worse and expect you to cheer up anyway. I’ve just spent the last five minutes telling you about how I’ve had another failed month, how another friend or relative has announced another pregnancy and how I don’t understand why it’s just not working for us and this is your four word reply. I feel better already!

I’m curious if anyone else has ever come across any of these, or perhaps any ones that I’ve missed? If so, add them to the comments – I’d love to see what other people’s bunnies have to offer!

*Authors Note – This post is not meant to offend or annoy, I do genuinely appreciate anyone taking the time to talk to me about my life. Infertility is hard and sometimes, you just need to vent*

Infertility Shame

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It got to a point last year, shortly after my ectopic, that I hit rock bottom. It felt like we had been trying forever, the ‘perfect age gap’ that I had planned was slowly getting bigger and bigger and being the control freak that I am, I couldn’t handle dealing with a situation with which I really had no control at all. It felt like everyone around me was announcing a pregnancy every other week and I was the only one who was having any kind of trouble having a child. I felt ashamed of my body, like less of a woman and like I was letting my husband down.

I felt so alone and depressed with what had happened that one night, I wrote a short piece on Facebook (addressed to my nearest and dearest), detailing what had happened regarding the surgery I had had and the struggles I had faced over the previous 12 months. It felt therapeutic to write it out and finally feel like I didn’t have to hide behind a mask of happy when interacting with my family and friends. I didn’t really think anyone would read it, but as soon as I began to talk openly and honestly about what was going on, several of my friends got in contact to say they had been going through something similar. One had been trying for five years to conceive her first child and I had no idea! It made me wonder, why are women so reluctant to speak out when they are going through something like this? And how many more people did I know that were suffering alone and in silence like I was?

I understand that not everyone wants to be open about what they’re going through and it’s their right to keep that to themselves. But I have felt alone in this for such a long time, and for me, it’s been not having another woman to talk to who has been through it that has been really hard to deal with. Whilst my husband will happily listen to my worries and concerns, he is going through this with me and I don’t always feel like I want to bring up the subject with him (he knows it sucks, he wants another child too). None of the women in my family have ever had problems conceiving, so when I talk to them, I have someone who can sympathise but not necessarily relate to what I’m going through. What I longed for was another woman to say ‘I know how you feel, I’m going through this too and it really sucks’.

I firmly believe women are conditioned from a young age to believe in a very ‘black and white’ version of reproduction. Most schools offer some form of sex education and a lot of the information given to young men and women tends to follow a basic ‘1+1=2’ formula. For example “if you have unprotected sex, you will get pregnant” makes it sound like any form of unprotected sexual activity will result in a pregnancy. For some, I’m sure that this is the case but for many others, one act of unprotected sex alone will not result in a pregnancy. At the age of 16, pregnancy is not something that is necessarily wanted and I understand that a lot of the conversation is geared towards making sure that protection is used every time. But as you get older, get married and are actively trying to start (or continue) a family, most couples only have the information they were given back when they were at school; so when it takes couples more than a few months to fall pregnant, it can be a confusing, depressing and frustrating time for them.

In my case, I felt like I couldn’t ask anyone I knew questions about what was happening, so I did what anyone with access to the internet would do – I googled it. I spent hours upon hours trawling through message boards (whilst we’re on the subject, what’s with all the shorthand on message boards? TTC, DTD, DH, CM, AF, BFN?… WTF!), NHS websites and international websites all about fertility, trying to conceive and the wonders of the reproductive system. I found a lot of contradictory material and a lot of well-meaning individuals giving out advice as though it were fact and the more I researched, most of what I was reading turned out to be either partially or completely false. The problem being that there wasn’t any one place where I could find the answers I was looking for, or if I could it was a partial answer meaning more googling ensued. I spoke to Doctors, who seemed to know shockingly little about the subject (a doctor at my local hospital told me after I had my tube removed that my right ovary ‘just won’t work anymore’ – seriously!) and overall, just felt lost and overwhelmed in a sea of information with no one to guide me to anything of real substance.

Unfortunately, I still have found very few sources that are actually of any merit and am still self-taught in all things fertility. Infertility and, even more so, secondary Infertility is not something which is widely discussed either in the education system, or indeed across any popular media and I firmly believe that until we start the conversation publicly, there will still be a sense of shame around the subject and those who require help won’t know where to find it. Until recently Mental Health had received no public press and many were afraid that admitting to having a mental health problem would result in ridicule, shaming and alienation. Many organisations have worked tirelessly to make everyone aware of the many different mental health disorders that many people across the world suffer from and I believe that we can do the same with infertility. I dream of a world where women, or men, suffering from infertility of any kind, can find others to help encourage and support them; to listen when necessary and to help lift the shame that society has placed on anyone who is reproductively challenged. And In my opinion, the way to start is to stand up, speak up and make ourselves heard.

The story so far..

I met my husband back in 2004 through friends at college and it was love at first sight. We were both 16 and very quickly began to realise that we were perfect for each other, I had found ‘The One’. Things were going great and then, in 2007, I discovered I was pregnant. It was unexpected to say the least; fresh out of college and in my first full time job it wasn’t the best timing, but we were excited. I had some cramping, resulting in an early scan but was reassured that it was normal and our little bean was there and doing fine. A little after the 6 week mark I started to bleed and when we went in for a scan a few days later, we were told by a rather unhelpful sonographer that ‘there’s nothing there; It’s all gone’. We had miscarried. The entire experience was heart breaking and could have been handled so much better by staff at our local hospital but we got each other through it and after seeking counselling for my own issues surrounding what had happened, we moved on.

Then in 2009, we discovered we were pregnant again (not as much of a surprise this time due to a torn contraceptive). Again, I started to bleed at about 6 weeks and we lost the baby. Doctors told me they wouldn’t investigate what was happening until I had had three miscarriages and that these things can happen, so again, we tried to move forward without any real answers or closure.

Everything changed in 2011. We fell pregnant again and were carefully monitored for the first few weeks with early scans and blood work, but everything was looking good and the baby was there, heart beating away. It was a tense pregnancy after the losses but on October 8th 2011 (three weeks early) our Daughter was born via emergency C-Section.

In the two years that followed we adjusted to life with our beautiful daughter, we finally got married and we continued to build our lives together with our new addition. Just before her second birthday, my Husband and I started discussing the possibility of having another child, a brother or sister for our daughter. We had always said that we wanted two children and felt like the timing was right. After falling pregnant quickly with every other pregnancy, I expected to be trying for only a few months before we fell pregnant again. So it came as a surprise when after three months we still weren’t expecting. We had never had issues becoming pregnant; it was always keeping the pregnancy that had been the issue so this was a whole new problem and a whole new world that I was unknowingly entering.

After twelve months of trying, in September 2014, we found out we were pregnant. It was just before my daughter’s third birthday, I was overjoyed – it may have taken longer than I had expected but we had done it, baby number two. I started cramping at six weeks, which set off alarm bells after the first two pregnancies and I immediately called the doctor for referral to our local early pregnancy unit. They saw me the following day for a scan and quickly told me that they couldn’t find anything in my uterus, the term they used was ‘Pregnancy of Unknown Location’. I had no idea what this meant but after blood work, was told that with my HCG and Progesterone being so low, the pregnancy would probably end by itself and a few days later I started bleeding.

I grieved for our loss, after so long trying it was devastating but I was determined to start trying again after my body had recovered. About a week after the bleeding finished (what would have been approx. 7 weeks) I started to get a sharp pain on my right side. I was sent straight to hospital, where my bloods showed my HCG was still rising, and rather quickly. I was given more scans but nothing was found and I was told to come back for more bloods at the end of the week, just to check that the levels were decreasing by themselves. These also came back higher than the previous bloods, so another scan was performed and they found the embryo in my right tube, it had been growing slowly but was now visible at 8 weeks. I was sent for emergency key hole surgery on the same day and had my right tube and the embryo completely removed.

After a few months of healing and being given the go ahead by our doctors, we resumed trying and so far have been unsuccessful. It’s been 8 months since the surgery and although my body has healed and I have been reassured by the lovely staff at our local hospital that my fertility has only decreased slightly, it’s a very uncertain future for our family. We are currently undergoing fertility tests to determine if there is some other cause that is making it difficult for us to conceive the second time round, and I will be posting when we have the results.

For now, we are continuing to try every month, enjoying every second with our daughter and supporting each other through our secondary infertility as best we can.

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