Welcome back to the third week of the “Share Your Story” series, last week I introduced you to the lovely Melanie from Fraser’s Fun House. A brave Mama talking about her experiences of reoccurring miscarriages. This week I have another very lovely lady called Caro from The Cuckoo Mama. Caro is sharing her story on infertility and the journey to her son. Here’s the lovely lady……
I’m Caro! Mama to Sam and wife to Hugh. I’m a stay-at-home mama, ruler of the household, blogger, infertility advocate, IVF survivor and, I like to think, all round good egg!
I’d originally set out to create a blog which could act as a forum for creative play, nutritious meals and generally be a place for veritable Mary Poppins-esque folks to connect. And then it all changed and, in a way, quite naturally just became what it is today; an honest, raw and, hopefully, amusing account of the roller-coaster that is infertility and the, subsequent, pandemonium that is parenting.
I also blog for Huff Post UK, I volunteer for Fertility Network UK and, as life goes on, have very much learned that we really are all just trying our best!
Infertility & the Journey to my Son.
I never expected to have trouble conceiving. It was something I’d always taken for granted, part of my plan. My husband and I weren’t old, we were both healthy and we’re good people; a loving couple, careful with money, who wanted a family and had started to prepare. We’d traded in our London life for a house in the countryside, complete with garden, good local schools and a park on the doorstep. We were married, we were ready and here it was, the next step! The time was right, the excitement was rife and; nothing happened.
It came as a huge shock when, months down the line, nothing continued to happen. No conception had materialised, no baby had appeared and nothing we did seemed to make any difference. And oh, believe me, we did it all! There were over a hundred pages in our ‘Tips to conceive’ book and we’d pretty much, diligently, worked our way through every chapter.
Anyone who has been there knows that you’ll try absolutely ANYTHING to conceive. I stood on my head; I rubbed babies on my ovaries; I drank wheatgrass; I ate millet; we tried in the morning; we tried at noon; we tried every other day; we tried three times a day; we did everything we were told to do, and then some, until eventually an act, which had initially brought us so much joy, excitement and togetherness, began causing sadness, anxiety and became a chore.
And then we went to get tested.
As we’d started to suspect, the news wasn’t good and we were advised that there was no way we were going to fall pregnant naturally. However, science, age and knowledge about infertility was on our side and in 2013, after two years of first trying to conceive, we finally hopped on-board the rollercoaster that is IVF.
One thing I’d never expected about IVF was that it could fail. It had simply never crossed my mind and I was very much of the attitude; problem found, solution at hand, success guaranteed. However, I discovered, that isn’t the case. IVF does fail, success isn’t a given and, in reality, the success rate, for some couples, really isn’t that high. And we were one of those couples.
I also hadn’t expected IVF to be so addictive. During our first cycle I struggled with the injections, I felt ill on the hormones and vowed I’d never do it again. Yet we did. Again and again and again, and then some.
The months turned in to years, our savings depleted and our relationship became strained. I was carrying around huge amounts of grief and guilt; I was becoming increasingly depressed yet venturing further and further in to my addiction. Eventually my husband made us take a break. We were having three months off.
I can’t tell you how incredibly difficult it was for me to take that break, I remember feeling so angry that my husband had even suggested it; it felt like the beginnings of starting to give up. However, I got counselling, we took a holiday, I allowed myself to grieve and the pain did start to heal. We, finally, agreed we had to draw the line somewhere and decided our next cycle was going to be the last; if we weren’t successful then we’d, somehow, have to learn to live with that.
Following this final round we did conceive but, sadly, that pregnancy ended in an early miscarriage. However, for the first time ever we had two little embryos sitting on ice! There was still a glimmer of hope. Based on our history, it was agreed that both embryos would be transferred and many fingers would be crossed. We’d always been incredibly open about our infertility with friends and family knowing the dates of cycles, yet we’d kept this frozen cycle a secret and even when POSITIVE flashed up on the screen, still decided to keep the news under our belts until we got to that all important 12 week mark. Yet, as it so often does, fate had completely different ideas and the news was broken early. At eight weeks pregnant I was rushed in to hospital for emergency surgery, to remove an ectopic pregnancy. Surgeons did everything they could to save my life and that of the baby who had managed to settle in the right place.
And miracles do happen.
Seven months later Samuel joined us.
I’ve often likened the feelings of infertility to the seven stages of grief; disbelief; denial; bargaining; guilt; anger; depression and acceptance and I know I experienced all of these over what we now refer to as the “dark years”. But I also discovered that it’s fine to feel these emotions and cope, or not cope, in whatever way feels best for you. It’s your journey. Infertility can also feel incredibly lonely. We had a huge amount of support and yet, at times, I remember feeling so isolated. I felt like a social pariah who could only watch from the side-lines as pregnancies were announced and new babies were welcomed in to the world. Something we so desperately wanted yet couldn’t experience for ourselves.
Sam is now two. He’s a loveable little chap who brings so much joy, daily, he is definitely, absolutely and incredibly worth the wait. He takes my breath away and hurts my heart with love. I still pinch myself to check it’s true, that he really is here. And he is. The agony we went through can sometimes still feel incredibly raw and I’m glad of that: It’s a reminder not to take my life for granted. In some ways I believe I may always carry infertility with me, I no longer feel defined by my treatment but there’s definitely still a shadow of those emotions there. I’ll never forget what we went through to get our son, but I’ll also never forget what a blessing he is.
Thank you so much for sharing your story Caro.
When you think of falling pregnant, I think we all just assume that it will happen. The challenges that people face were never really spoken about as I was growing up, yet it is one of the most complex things you can do. Science is a wonderful thing and helps so many people. I’m glad yours was a happy ending.
If you would like to read more of Caro’s journeys through IVF and parenthood then you can find her: