What can you remember from your sex education at school? Do you remember anything specific? Can you remember any details? I have a vague recollection of being in a science lesson and the teacher trying to control a bunch of giggling girls, whilst talking about willies, lady bits and a baby in a tummy but this is about it. What I don’t recall however is really being taught periods, ovulation and fertility. Fast forward to now and I’m in a situation where I’ve had to become far more aware of what happens inside my body each month because my fertility is an issue. And this is something I’m only fully aware of in my (late) thirties. But what if this had been something I’d been aware of, from my teenage years onwards? Okay who knows what situation I’d be in now, but what if young girls were taught about fertility, alongside sex education from a young age, would that be a bad thing?
It’s happening. The road I never thought we’d have to go down, we’re on. We’re about to embark on IVF *pulls imaginary train whistle* After a fairly straightforward first pregnancy, naturally I assumed I’d easily conceive again but ever since an early miscarriage things have gone a bit wrong with my monthly cycle, and things just haven’t worked from this point on. Having IVF has obviously been talked about, it’s been in the back of my mind but I guess me and the husband both hoped that we wouldn’t get to that point. It’s been a possibility, something we may have to consider but I didn’t actually think we’d have to do it. Other people have IVF, I know so many that have had it, everyone knows someone whose had it these days, but I honestly thought it wouldn’t be me.
I stumbled upon the term Secondary Infertility during one of my many Google searches last year. The phrase empowered me somewhat, because suddenly what I was experiencing had a name! This was good, it meant I could find a resolution and get to the bottom of things. But, it hasn’t been so. I didn’t think my husband and I would be that couple who’d have problems getting pregnant second time round, that happens to other people right? That wouldn’t happen to us? But here we are, a year and a half down the line and still no baby joy. After having a really early miscarriage in December 2015, I’m now experiencing what is known as ‘Secondary infertility’ (SI). Doctors describe it as, ‘the inability to conceive or carry to term a second or subsequent child’ and SI now accounts for six out of 10 infertility cases. The reasons could be a number of factors, but experts say it might be because women are having babies later in life, they’re stressed and tired already with their first child or from work, there might be a hormonal imbalance after their first pregnancy or there might be an underlying medical cause. In my case, there is no set explanation, there’s nothing physically wrong, things quite simply just aren’t happening.
When it comes to talking about fertility, some prefer to keep problems behind closed doors. Perhaps fearful of confirming their issues out loud, or maybe fearful of letting emotions get the better of us. Not being able to have a baby is a hugely emotive topic. But having problems getting pregnant isn’t something we should be ashamed of when talking to others. If someone asks the question, as I often am of, ‘so when are you having another one’, they shouldn’t be surprised when they get the truthful answer of, ‘we’re having problems with that actually’. I shared a photo on my Instagram page recently and the positive response that it had overwhelmed me. Several women shared their own stories of fertility problems, and just knowing that others have walked the same path helped immensely. A lot of people commenting praised my honesty in sharing. And that’s something I vowed I would always do on this blog, share my story and be honest, especially on this topic. For my own benefit and to hopefully make any other women experiencing the same, feel like they’re not alone.
When I was trying to get pregnant with Olivia, things didn’t happen quite as quickly as I hoped. Because of this, I found myself feeling very negative each month when things obviously didn’t work. After a fair amount of ‘woe is me’, I realised that I needed to do something about the situation. I couldn’t control whether the biological act itself worked, however I could start doing things that were positive to get me out of my negative rut. One of the things that I decided to try was acupuncture. Despite my reservations as I HATE needles, the last time I had a blood sample taken I got serious top lip sweat and woke up crumpled on the floor, despite this, I thought I could at least give it a try. I found Anna on the British Acupuncture Council website, made my first appointment and found I had nothing to worry about. Anna was lovely and completely put my mind at ease. And despite the odd situation of having needles sticking out of me, I hardly noticed them and oddly felt incredibly relaxed! Since seeing Anna, I’ve only ever heard good things about acupuncture and the many ailments it can help with, I got in touch to find out more about this ancient art.