dealing with infertility

Dear Facebook,

Over the past 8 years we’ve been through a lot. You’ve met all my friends and family, you’ve been there through my ups and downs and we talk pretty much every day. I’ve always tried to keep you updated on how I’m doing because I want you to know I’m happy and well but the truth is… I haven’t been entirely honest with you.

In fact, I’ve been living a secret life. Behind each of my ‘yay life is great’ status updates there was also another side to me that I was too embarrassed to talk about. But I’ve thought long and hard about it and decided it’s time to confess all.
As they say a problem shared is a problem halved so here goes….

Even though in theory my husband and I should be able to have a baby together, it hasn’t happened for us. We’ve been struggling to conceive for 2 years and have just finished our second IVF cycle. That means countless doctor appointments, scans, treatments, injections, emotional instability, vitamins, supplements, diets, irrational uncontrollable hormonal crying and all (so far) for absolutely nothing.

I kept all of this from you because I was scared of being judged but I’m tired of living a double life and I know I’m not the only one going through this. So in the spirit of full disclosure, I confess:  The 2014 I told you about – and what was REALLY happening in my world.

FACEBOOK STATUS: ‘In your face Christmas calories’ was my first update of the year because I forced myself to go for a frosty run around Clapham Common. It was resolutions time and shedding the festive flab was number 1 on the list.
FERTILITY STATUS: ‘1 year of trying to get pregnant with sweet nothing in return. But I’m healthy, young, I do yoga.. what the hell is going on?’
After a series of failures, scans and tests doctors are confused as to why we’re not getting pregnant. And after exploring every other option (ovulation tracking, acupuncture, legs in the air etc) we’re advised to try IVF. My real No 1 new years resolution? Make a test tube baby.

FACEBOOK STATUS: I wrote about being ‘proud of my husband’ and posted a news article about him leaving the BBC for a new job in LA. We were both excited about the move but didn’t have long to pack – he started his new position in just 8 weeks!
FERTILITY STATUS: Stress alert! Moving to a new country a few weeks after IVF. 
There was a lot going on this month and the pressure was starting to show. Especially as I was now having to inject myself daily with a cocktail of drugs. I had no idea what I was doing and Googling ‘how to inject painlessly’ only brought up a selection of anxiety inducing fertility forums or drug rehabilitation centres. Neither very helpful.

FACEBOOK STATUS: ‘Sad leaving drinks’
This was the month of goodbyes, the end of an era and an emotional time leaving my job, my home, my friends and my family.
FERTILITY STATUS: ‘I’m pregnant!!’
Behind the sadness of leaving our friends and family there was joy at last. We finally had a positive pregnancy test and were thrilled. All we wanted to do was shout it from the rooftops but had to keep hush hush until the 3-month scan.

FACEBOOK STATUS: ‘The only way to see Paris is on a Segway’
My mum and I have a birthday in the same week so I took her to Paris to celebrate along with my cousin and auntie. We Segway toured around the city like a group of annoying tourists, ate cheese and croissants like there was no tomorrow and came home double our body weight. Ooh la la.
FERTILITY STATUS: ‘Broken hearted.’
Shortly after arriving back from France (and 2 days before moving to LA) we went for our 7-week scan. My husband and I were beyond excited and even had a short list of baby names. As the monitor lit up we were in awe as we saw the outline of our baby but as fast as we gasped ‘ahhhh’ the doctor put her hand on my knee and said ‘I’m sorry there’s no heartbeat’. She sent us home and said to expect to miscarry naturally within 2 weeks. We spent the next few days immersed in a cloud of shock, grief and confusion.

FACEBOOK STATUS: ‘Get ready Vegas’
Our move to LA was christened with the obligatory trip to Vegas. We came back broken and broke but the temporary distraction was exactly what we needed.
FERTILITY STATUS: ‘Off to hospital for D&C so the doctors can remove our baby’
I was told that if my body didn’t naturally miscarry within a fortnight then I should have the fetus removed by doctors to prevent infection. That 2-week wait felt like 2 years and to make things worse the hormones raging around my body turned me into a devil bitch. We booked into UCLA hospital where I was treated by a bunch of junior doctors who took around 20 attempts to simply draw blood.  It was a horrible experience made worse when we received an extortionate bill for the procedure that we were definitely not expecting. Welcome to America.

FACEBOOK STATUS ‘How can I focus in yoga when Charlize Theron is downward dogging next to me?’
After 2 months living in LA without a decent celeb spot yet I hit the jackpot. I’m not easily star struck but Charlize is up there, she’s stunning and she’s great at yoga.  Jealous.  I could barely concentrate on my vinyasa and left with a sore neck from checking her out.  She can’t be real?
FERTILITY STATUS ‘We’re on a break (from fertility treatment)’
The events of April and May were so emotionally draining we took a step back from living and breathing IVF and tried to settle into our new life. Hey who knows we may even get pregnant naturally?

FACEBOOK STATUS ‘A few laps around the block and I’ve passed, no wonder there are so many crashes in LA’
I proudly let you know I passed my California driving test and it was super easy. Not quite sure how it took my husband 3 times… (but that’s our secret).
FERTILITY STATUS: ‘If only getting pregnant was as easy as bloody passing your driving test’
We try to conceive naturally but surprise surprise no joy. Even though it was a long shot, we still felt sad and dejected at having failed yet again.

FACEBOOK STATUS ‘First time we go sailing and see dolphins!’
I put up photos of our ocean boat ride where we saw a beautiful family of dolphins. It was magical.
FERTILITY STATUS ‘First time to try a new fertility drug: clomid’
The last thing I wanted to do was go through another round of injections so our doctor suggested this less invasive method. It’s a tablet that stimulates the ovaries to produce more eggs. We went into it with trepidation as one of the well-known side effects is divorce (it can send you loopy) but luckily I was only medium on the psycho Richter scale. Result? Fail. Cry. What’s next doc?

FACEBOOK STATUS ‘Family visiting time’
We were so excited to have family visit us and spent time doing Hollywood touristy trips, we also travelled to Joshua tree to see my father in law give a talk about his amazing books.
FERTILITY STATUS ‘Turkey basting time’
Time for new tactics, I start hormone stimulating injections all over again but this time we try artificial insemination (IUI) which involves a quick trip to the doctors so they can wash (filter) and inseminate (squirt) the best sperm directly into my uterus. A bit like buying ‘fast track’ tickets at the theme park. 2 weeks later… I’m pregnant! 1 week later I’m not.

FACEBOOK STATUS ‘Pumpkin carving time’
It was our first experience of Halloween in America and it felt like the biggest event of the year. We went full throttle of course and did everything from pumpkin carving to dressing up as dead people for a costume party.
FERTILITY STATUS: ‘Another IUI. Another fail’
All I wanted was to guzzle a bottle of wine or 2 but because of my new ‘healthy fertility’ diet I couldn’t even do that. This SUCKS.

FACEBOOK STATUS: ‘Turned into a Smoothie addict’
Nov was health kick month (even though we were already living like monks) as we bought a blender and made daily fruit smoothies like these. I also tried out some new fitness classes like aerial yoga, trampoline, kickboxing and pole dancing – wow I have a whole new appreciation for those girls.
FERTILITY STATUS: ‘IVF round 2 but now the meds aren’t working. WTF?’
I take 2 rounds of injections a day to stimulate my eggs but my ovaries refuse to budge. Stubborn, just like me. My doctor even recommended I stop taking the meds but with only a few days to go I decided to continue — I topped it off with a few acupuncture sessions — and it was a complete turnaround. I produced 10 eggs and we fertilized 8. Things were looking good!

FACEBOOK STATUS ‘I miss all my friends and family in the UK! Christmas isn’t the same in the sun’
We had our first Christmas in LA, it was sad being away from our family but thankfully Cam’s parents invited us over for a delicious festive feast.
FERTILITY STATUS: ‘IVF Fails again. I don’t know how much more of this I can take’
Even though we started out with 8 embryos none of them survived. Another crushing emotional blow. My doctor is now focused on increasing our embryo quality for the next round so has given us several more ‘antioxidants’ to add to our epic list and has some other tactics up his sleeve including growth hormones. Yey, more injections!  I hope I don’t turn into a muscle Mary.

So there it is – my heart and soul on a sleeve. 2014 was tough but it was also a wonderful year with some incredible memories. Despite all of the knockbacks I’m still feeling positive and believe that it will happen for us.
As for 2015? We plan to start IVF again soon, I’ll keep you from the gory details for now as I’m hoping I’ll simply be announcing ‘WE ARE PREGNANT’.