During the last four years, something I’ve never been 100% certain of is whether or not I’m actually ovulating. We started trying for a second baby back in 2015 and I duly bought and used ovulation sticks, given that they worked literally like a dream when we conceived Olivia. However second time round I found them to be increasingly unreliable. I seemed to get conflicting information from them – either nothing each month or several peak days. This meant I’d start using them really early to try and catch the right day, which ultimately meant spending loads of money. I stopped using them after a year and aside from a scan with a private consultant in November 2016 which showed I had ovulated at the time, bar this one confirmation I had no idea what was going on in there every month (hellooooo, anything?!) Because of this and because I simply wasn’t getting pregnant, I felt I could do with some help in this department, so towards the end of last year I found myself looking at devices I could buy that would help me pinpoint ovulation.
For some reason, when things weren’t working as easily as we had hoped in trying for a second baby, I always had it in my head that we would try IVF. But I’ve no idea why this thought was in there? Why did I think this? Perhaps because I know a lot of people who have had it and it’s worked, perhaps because I follow lots of people on Social Media who have been through it. Maybe that’s the reason it was already implanted in my mind. Definitely one thing I was considering it was because of my age – there is something akin to doom when you are a woman nudging 40 in the fertility world, think flashing klaxons going off, warning of your ovaries about to shut down. Ultimately however if I am honest, deep down, I thought IVF was the answer to our problems. I thought it was going to be the easy route to getting what we wanted.
There were two Social Media campaigns run recently that I got involved with, miscarriage awareness week and fertility week. I had a look through all the posts linked with the relevant hashtags and read many honest and open stories. Stories from women who are desperate for a child, who have various problems that prevent them from having one naturally and whose only option is assisted help. Afterwards I had a bit of a lightbulb moment (well for me it’s more like someone slowly turning a switch on and off, repeatedly, for a long time) I realised that in hindsight we bowled headlong into IVF when we didn’t need to. There is nothing wrong with my husband or I per se. We easily conceived our first child we just frustratingly can’t conceive a second. We have unexplained secondary infertility. My point being that I realised we didn’t have to have IVF – we chose to have it. Now that I know what a stress and strain IVF is, I think (we both think) I wish we had waited before going down that route. There were perhaps other avenues we could have explored before IVF. Hindsight eh. Off the back of this lightbulb ping I was pondering about what I wish I could rewind the clock for and go back and tell myself. Here are six things that I wish had been on my radar four years ago.
Infertility has frustratingly defined how I have felt over the last three years. It’s something you can’t really control and that’s quite hard to accept. You can eat well, exercise, take supplements or medication if you have something specifically wrong with you but you can’t physically control whether or not you get pregnant, it’s down to science. It’s completely out of your hands and at times I’ve felt incredibly helpless about it all. Couple this with IVF stress and a miscarriage and it’s all been a bit much, but recently there has been a shift, something has happened and I feel like I’ve turned a bit of a corner. I feel like some of the old me has returned. I feel like I’ve taken back some control and it’s like a small weight has been lifted.
I wrote a post earlier this year about wanting to make changes within our family to benefit the environment and most important of all, to try and reduce the insane thing that is plastic waste. Whilst it isn’t something way at the top of my everyday life, because, well, life, I really think about every plastic item I throw in the bin now because I know it’s heading straight to landfill. When I throw something away, I wonder whether I actually needed it at all or whether I could find a more earth-friendly replacement for it. I’ve been feeling like I could and should do more. I started following a great Instagram account recently, @small_sustainable_steps who is Amanda. She uses her account to cover the topic of ethical living and gives regular updates with examples of things she is going to help reduce plastic, live more sustainably, reduce her footprint etc . Her account has given me some great ideas and quite frankly, motivation. Thinking about what else I could do, got me thinking about the positive things I am doing already. Small changes that I should be happy with. Here is what I have done so far.