27th July 2014. The day after our wedding. I was in a bubble of pure bliss. Having married the man of my dreams, I couldn’t have been happier. A year of excitedly planning our big day had paid off and it was better than my wildest dreams; I couldn’t wait for the next chapter. In my head, that was starting a family and building our life together. We had talked about it before and therefore we would start trying and I would get pregnant. Or so I thought. It was our first mis’conception’.
How naive I was. Dreams of a ‘honeymoon baby’ were dashed. I’d worked out that I would be ovulating on our wedding night (or so I thought) and so stocked up a neat pile of pregnancy tests in the drawer for our return. I dread to think how much we spent on pregnancy tests over the years. I thought it would happen straight away. Instead there was no baby that year. Or the next. Or the next. In actual fact, little did we know at the time, whilst we happily celebrated in the sunshine on our patio, eating leftover wedding cake and merrily clinking our champagne glasses, that the next chapter for us was going to test our new marriage and wedding vows to the limit for years.
On the subject of wedding vows, I ashamedly don’t think I focused on them quite as much as I should have. Yes, I thought about them as I was saying them but I didn’t really think about them. I loved Craig more than I ever thought I could love someone. I knew that. I wanted to be his wife and be the best wife I could be. But I think you can gloss over the parts that don’t sound so perfect… for worse, for poorer, in sickness. You don’t think it will happen to you but, of course, this was again very naive of me. We were tested in a way that could quite easily have broken us. Despite this, no matter how rough the journey was, we stuck together, supported each other, cried, got angry but never once did I feel like he wasn’t with me. We were a team. As a PE teacher, Craig most certainly won ‘man of the match’ and I definitely should have been awarded a few red cards at times!
Our journey to have a baby was the two of us. Yes, my body took the biggest battering physically but we both struggled mentally – more than I ever imagined possible. Every tablet, examination (these are not fun or attractive – more in a future blog), tear, pitying look from doctors (not to mention others), needle (there were a lot), scan, social media announcement, sensitive reaction to a comment, pregnancy test, ovulation stick, arduous clock watching in the waiting room, breakdown, person who didn’t understand, holiday to take our mind off things and to relax, form to fill in, twinge, high, low, car journey, train ride etc etc etc, Craig was there by my side, stopping me from falling, putting his own feelings to one side, keeping me from crumbling and giving up and, for that, I am the luckiest girl alive. He saved me.
A friend said to me during a really dark time that perhaps I should write a blog. I thought it was a good idea as I used to spend hours desperately scouring the internet in the hope that I would find someone who was ‘exactly like me’. Anyone viewing my google search history would probably have checked me into the nearest hospital as I had an obsession. I didn’t care though. Anything that would make me ‘feel better’ and give me hope, I was willing to do. Not much of it did help. I didn’t feel normal. Although I found some things, I didn’t find anything that resonated with me (until much later when I read Izzy Judd’s ‘Dare to Dream’ during our second round of IVF). I just couldn’t face writing about it though. I was doing well enough to get myself out of bed in the morning and get myself to work as a primary school teacher (this had its enormous challenges and I’m sure I will talk about this in a later blog). I did, however, decide that when the time felt right to share our story – the good, bad, terrifying and very, very ugly – I would do so. If our story can provide comfort to just one person, then I will feel like it has done some good. That one person might be one amongst the billions of people in the world, but enduring infertility makes you feel like the only person in the world and also selfish and self-centred – which I have since realised is ok. More than ok. It’s completely normal. It’s also strangely done me good. Battling infertility has certainly changed me for the better. So… in an attempt to do this, I am starting my blog. It won’t be in chronological order. I plan to write as things come to mind. Some may be short and some may be long. As Mummy to my gorgeous daughter, who takes up most of my life now, there will be some blogs about parenting after infertility too, particularly as the question I ask myself the most now is “Am I really her Mummy?’ It may sound stupid but part of me still doesn’t quite believe it and I’m waiting for someone to come and say ‘only joking!’ The adjustment from trying to be a mum for so long to actually being one is taking some time. Often, I actually feel as if I’m playing ‘Mums and Dads’ like I used to do in the play area of my kindergarten class with my best friend (I always had to be the Dad…she was prettier with longer hair!) Perhaps all parents are doing this really to a certain extent as there definitely aren’t any perfect ways to bring up your children.
Learning to be Mummy began for me on that day. 27th July 2014 – not, as some may assume, on the day my daughter was born in March this year…1342 days later. I’m nervous to share our story but I hope that it will inspire others. Here goes…