You are the love of my life.
Lets rewind 5 years to where it all started.
I was 22 almost 23 and I had just got engaged to my now husband. We have been together since we were 16 and the reason I think were still together and will be together for years to come is because we are literally opposites. My husband Beau has lots of qualities I wish I had. He puts up with all my craziness. He is so relaxed like I swear NOTHING seems to faze him. He’s a lot more level headed than I am and also a lot more practical. He’s the kind of guy that everyone just loves where as I’m the kind of girl you either like or you really don’t. Like I said, opposites ha-ha. But the one thing we both agreed on from day one was we would get married to each other (which he brought up the first time we met and I found a tad weird at the time lol) and have a huge family at a young age.
We didn’t care about the fancy house or travelling all over the world we just wanted a quiet life with a big family.
We were both naive at this point. We just assumed everything would go to plan and work out how we wanted. Never could we have been prepared enough for what we were about to endure.
So the journey started when we got engaged we had decided to start trying for a baby. We had set our wedding date for that September and when we talked about it we both agreed we didn’t care if I was pregnant at our wedding. Children was our dream. If everybody could literally see that then so be it.
Soon enough the wedding rolled around and it was amazing but it was from there the seed started to plant that maybe something wasn’t quite right. I mean we were 23 at this point, both perfectly healthy; neither of us smoked or did drugs. I didn’t drink it just wasn’t my thing and I had never taken any from of contraceptive pill as I was allergic to it. I had a period every month. Everything just seemed so normal?
Of coarse after a wedding the question you get a million times and start to dread, when are you guys going to have kids? Do you want kids? Are you pregnant yet? Oh whens the baby’s coming you two? You better get on to making those babies!
This is when my dear old friends anxiety and depression moved on in.
I remember I woke up one morning and I just thought to myself you’re not good enough. That’s why you’re not pregnant. You don’t deserve the happiness of being a mother. You would fail at every part of it. You’re a bad person that’s why it’s not happening. And from there I think I stayed in bed crying, shaking, vomiting, sweating and repeating these thoughts to myself for the span of 10 days.
The guilt set in. beau showered me. Fed me. Stayed home from work to take care of me. As always was just amazing. We had just got married this was suppose to be a happy time but here I am failing at my first job of becoming a mum. I must be making beau miserable. His wife is just a useless sack of shit that can’t even achieve what she has all the right body parts for.
Then I thought id rather be dead than suffer another day of this torture.
This is where I got help.
I went to my GP and explained to him how sick I felt and how I think I was having a heart attack and all the thoughts going through my head and how maybe I have cancer or a tumor pushing on my brain or the million other things I self diagnosed.
Nothing could have flawed me more than when he said, “Abbey, I think you are suffering from anxiety and some depression”
Here I am completely oblivious to these terms.
I kept asking but what about the shaking and sweating and the physical symptoms.
I truly thought depression was people that couldn’t be bothered and felt sorry for themselves all day.
Now that I look back I am so ashamed of my assumptions.
The truth is I was never exposed to it. I was uneducated on the topic and therefore it just didn’t seem to exist in my world. Little did I know I was about to get a firsthand lesson.
My gp was then and is now such an amazing person.
On that day we talked and talked and we made a plan.
- Temporary medication
- Investigation on not being able to get pregnant.
I walked out of there already feeling a tad better. Don’t get me wrong I was in absolute shock that I have anxiety and depression but at the same time now that it had a name I felt like I could beat it.
What kept me going was knowing that we were looking to find out why I wasn’t pregnant yet.
A month or so later I was feeling on top of things. Therapy was helping I was off my medications and I was feeling like myself again. I found for me personally talking to people, anyone who would listen about my anxiety took the weight off. I soon realized how many people were suffering on a daily and living with the same pressures and feelings as I was. It made me feel human.
We had booked an appointment at fertility associates. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into and the appointment came round really fast.
I remember booking the appointment and having to wait over a month for a consultation. I realized then that we weren’t alone in this.
I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever been as nervous as that first appointment. Sitting in the waiting room were six other couples and a constant barrage of people in and out of the doors. Then it was our turn. It felt like we were walking down the corridor to find out our fate.
Our specialist was amazing. A beautiful lady with a kind heart and sympathetic eyes. There was what felt like ten thousand questions. Every last detail private or not was noted down. I was exhausted when we left but I was also hopeful. The doctor sent us both for some tests including me having some ultrasounds.
A week later we got the call back.
Nothing. They found nothing wrong. Beau’s sperm was through the roof. My ovaries were producing. They found nothing. The doctor’s advice was to come back in 3 months if we still had no progress.
3 months felt like overnight and we were back doing the dreaded corridor walk of doom.
Medication. We were going to start with 3 rounds of a drug called letrozole. It was relatively new to the fertility game and had been originally used as a hormone therapy for patients with breast cancer. I’m no doctor but from what I understand it encourages the ovaries to overproduce so that your hormones overproduce therefore giving you an increased chance of pregnancy.
Our kind doctor told us not to get to excited as for lots of people it takes multiple rounds to see any kind of results but also they have had a lot of success with this treatment.
Month one no change.
Month two my egg count was up and follicles were enlarged but no pregnancy.
Month three = pregnant. But we didn’t know till it was over.
I had started feeling all kinds of strange. Sickness, sore joints, headaches and blurred vision. I went to my gp thinking it was viral. Pregnancy test was negative so he agreed viral and I had to ride it out.
Two weeks passed and I was still sick. I took a pregnancy test at home just to be sure and there was the faintest line. Ill never forget it. I wanted to take another one that night before I told anyone just to be sure.
I didn’t get the chance.
The bleeding started around 4pm and it didn’t stop. I ended up getting in the shower because I couldn’t control it and I didn’t know what else to do. When beau got home from work he took one look at me all pale, bleeding and throwing up and said were going to a&e now.
Once I got there the bleeding had slowed down this was roughly 5 hours later.
The doctor took some blood and all the other checks they do and sent me home to ride it out. There was nothing they could do. They phoned the next day to say my HCG was higher than normal but to get tested again the next day and if it had gone down they suspected it was an early miscarriage.
And that indeed it was.
It was heartbreaking but at the same time we didn’t know I was pregnant so we didn’t get attached ad such and also in a weird way gave us confirmation that I could indeed get pregnant I just had to try again.
I never seemed to recover properly. I still had random symptoms. Daily headaches, lots of food aversions and just a general unwell feeling were lingering. I felt my anxiety creeping back but I didn’t do anything about it until it was to late. I was in the full swing of a break down again. This time it lasted 3 weeks. When I think back this is when my attitude and relationship with my body changed. Up until then I had been lucky with body image. I had never felt the pressures of being a certain size or looking a certain way I just remember I always loved fashion and makeup and wearing clothes that made me feel good.
Not anymore. I felt absolutely betrayed by my body. I started to hate the fact that I carried around a vagina and ovaries and a uterus that were completely useless to me. That if only they worked properly I wouldn’t have this anxiety issue and that for some reason the root of all my problems was my stupid broken fucking female body.
I went back on medication. Long term this time. I was terrified of a relapse again I just didn’t want to risk it. Medication isn’t for everyone but it felt right and it works for me. To this day I take it every morning.
Therapy helped me to confront my issues not to be afraid of them. It was ok to feel all these emotions but I needed to learn how to process them. Especially if I was going to continue this fertility journey.
3 months passed and we returned to the fertility clinic. We went over what had happened and what our options were. It was at this appointment that I started to feel like just a number.
It was like something life changing happened but just don’t worry make an appointment pick up your script and do more drugs and hope for the best this time.
All around me people were getting pregnant.
Most of my friends had one baby by now.
Some were onto their second.
People kept asking the dreaded questions.
I stopped going to things especially baby showers.
I was loosing friends. They either didn’t know how to deal or just plain didn’t want to.
Nobody knew how I felt. I didn’t know anyone at that time that could relate.
Physically I couldn’t cry anymore
Emotionally my heart was breaking
Mentally I couldn’t take it.
3 more months and no success.
I was producing more eggs but nothing seemed to be fertilizing,
All the while I was still having symptoms of nausea and headaches and general un-wellness.
The specialist decided she wanted to operate. She wanted to flush my tubes for blockages have a look around inside and make sure everything was in full working order.
I couldn’t get an appointment fast enough.
The day of my operation came around and beau waited anxiously in the waiting room. They told us it would be roughly a 1-hour procedure. 30 minutes of that was anesthesia and organization.
One hour rolled around
Two hours and he was starting to get worried.
The nurse came out to tell beau there had been some complications but everything was fine and I shouldn’t be much longer.
My 1-hour operation turned into 4.5 hours and an hour in recovery.
Turns out the reason I was still feeling sick is because I still had remnants of the miscarriage stuck to my uterus rotting away.
I had endometriosis so bad it had spread to my stomach bowel kidneys and liver.
I also had a small tear in my uterus.
My ovaries were also both polycystic.
I almost didn’t think she was talking to me. I had friends and also my sister in law with endometriosis and I had seen it in full force. My sister in law would have to take time off work and be sobbing on the couch in pain with heat packs and panadol by the busload for her endo.
I didn’t have any pain or cramping or weird periods.
But that’s endo for you. Its different for everybody and some people get no symptoms hence why so often it goes undiagnosed.
I healed fast and was lucky to have no complications.
Mentally I was on the mend also but we had decided now was the time to take a break for a while on the whole fertility treatment thing. I was 25 almost 26 at this point and it had been a loooonggggg 3 years. We needed some time.
So I recovered and we carried on our day-to-day lives but always in the back of our minds were babies. Always babies.
It was time to go back. I was 27. So close to 30.
We were both feeling stronger. This time around I feel like we both went into things a bit more eyes wide open. We felt more prepared and more confident. Confident to ask questions, to be informed on the decisions and what was going to be right for us.
This time as we sat in those all to familiar feeling chairs things were different.
This time our specialist advised that after all this time and things we had tried and we were still unexplained fertility issues IVF would give us our best chance.
We went home and looked into it some more. We wanted to be educated as best we could to make this choice.
We chose to go ahead. And everything changed.
I was on my first round of medications to make my ovaries produce as many healthy eggs as possible to be able to harvest and to then be fertilized.
I went in to the clinic on day 7 to have a check up scan to see everything was working. The result. It wasn’t.
My doctor explained how my follicles were enlarged but currently they had not released any eggs so therefore there was nothing to collect. She asked me to take a different set of drugs and to return in 3 days time for another scan to see if there was any progress.
3 days later I returned. Never did I expect what happened.
In those 3 days somehow in some way I had got pregnant.
It was a faint chance. They told me it was what looked like the start of a pregnancy and there was no way of knowing how it happened the way it did or if it would be viable or not we just needed to wait it out.
Week 6. I got rotavirus.
Week 9. Hyperemesis graviderum kicked in.
I vomited every single day of my pregnancy most days multiple times.
But I didn’t care.
Week 30 I stopped feeling baby moving. My placenta was at the front blocking all feeling.
Week 35 hospitalized for high blood pressure.
I was kept in hospital until week 37 as they couldn’t get my blood pressure under control. I was sent home for 48 hours to get my things together and was back in hospital to get induced at week 37. April 15th. Also my birthday.
The short version…
Waters broke morning of April 16th.
Rapid contractions 1min apart.
Dilated to 9cm in 1 hour.
Taken down to delivery suite from the ward
Blood pressure spiked. They couldn’t seem to get it under control
Was rushed into HDU and there was so many doctors and nurses and specialists in and out of my room, my mum and mother in law were kicked out of the room and I was put on monitors and had blood drawn and all sorts of lines going in with different medications. Internal monitor was put on baby’s head while she was still inside. Honestly it all happened so fast and now I look back and my husband and I talk about it I remember it very differently to how it actually happened. I remember feeling calm, I trusted these doctor this was their job. Also my baby was fine. Her heart rate was normal and not once did she show any signs of distress. As long as my baby was fine I would be fine.
So it turned out.. I had pre-eclampsia but had only started to contract it whilst I was in labor. My veins were collapsing so it was hard to get any of the right medications in. my blood pressure was 200 over something and it wasn’t showing any signs of coming down. I had lost control off the lower half of my body and they were concerned about me having a stroke or seizure.
(I don’t remember most of this I was on A LOT of drugs at this point lol)
The doctors gave me an epidural because it can help with blood pressure but can I tell you, once the epidural went in I was on cloud nine. I don’t know what’s in an epidural apart from magic and unicorns and all things that make you feel amazing.
I pushed for 2 hours but then my baby got her chin stuck on my cervix.
The doctors decided that my body was under too much pressure and it wasn’t safe for me to continue pushing so theatre it was.
First they were prepared for a C section but when we got into theatre the doctor said he thought he could push baby back up a wee bit and try to turn her so he could then forceps her out. And that’s exactly what he did.
1.20am April 17th 2018 6.15 pounds my little miracle baby was born. And she was absolutely perfect.
We had to stay in HDU for a week while I had transfusions and all sorts but I didn’t care.
We had a baby.
We actually did it. Our own perfect little baby.
Everyone’s fertility journey is different. Even though we were lucky and treatments resulted in a baby I know this isn’t the case for everyone. The key is support and understanding. Nothing can change the outcome. There is no right or wrong way to approach this journey and it will be many things but the most it will be is life changing.
It’s ok to have days where you don’t leave the house or your pajama’s all day and you cry and cry and eat chocolate and ice-cream for your 3 main meals.
You have to be kind to yourself. Nobody ever expects to go through something like this and we have to learn how to find our way through these feelings. It’s not automatic.
Regardless of the outcome I believe fertility issues are like a scar you always carry. You grieve for something that never was. It’s like your grieving for time lost or for wanting something so desperately that you cant have. The journey moves into a part of your soul and stays there to remind you of how strong you can be. Remind you to be resilient and to be understanding and kind. To never take the small things for granted.
This is just my part of the story. It changed everyone’s lives around us my husband, our families our friends our colleagues and I cant speak for them or their experience.
I know our journey may not seem like much to a stranger and that’s ok to.
I write this in the hopes that it starts conversations so that infertility doesn’t need to be something we hide from or don’t talk about.
It’s something that happens to us but its not who we are.
I think about the people that are still suffering every single day. Our journey was a light one compared to most. I pray for them. I cry for them. Most of all I support them.
I could talk for days to add to this story.
We tried to adopt.
How hard it is and how strict the guidelines are to qualify for fertility funding. (No we didn’t get any we were private patients)
The friends we lost.
The friends we gained.
I changed careers in the midst of it all.
The side effects of medications.
The stigmas around fertility issues.
The things we missed out on.
The life lessons we gained.
How even though I have my perfect wee miracle now, there are still underlying issues that I am in therapy for.
PTSD another mental health issue.
My birth trauma.
The newborn haze.
But that’s another story for another day.
I’m just grateful to be able to have the chance to raise a child of my own and I will love her more and more every day for the rest of my life. I will never take her for granted.
Knowing what I know now, would I do it all again?