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.
This main reason this shift has come about is because back in August I made the decision to see a Counsellor. Up until then I had kidded myself that I felt normal again. I had allowed myself two months of feeling sad after the miscarriage but then was so keen to do our next IVF round that I convinced myself I was fine. I threw myself into our doomed frozen round in March and came out the other side slightly bewildered. This was around the time we were living with my parents while building work was done to our house, so this then meant parking our fertility woes for a bit and enjoying a lovely hot summer – over-indulging in good food and wine and dealing with our house build. Fast forward to moving back home and our newly built loft-bedroom now backs onto our neighbours bedroom, who have a new baby. I suddenly found myself lying in bed every night, listening to a mewling newborn and it’s safe to say this broke me. It’s hard to describe how miserable and angry I suddenly felt. After a few weeks of this I realised it wasn’t healthy and that I needed help.
Through my Doctor I got a referral and found a Counsellor locally. I saw her six times in total and all in all, it has been an incredibly positive experience. Talking everything through with someone, an external person who knew nothing about me, felt like such a release. Every feeling and emotion laid bare, I cried my heart out in every session, it was like everything I’d bottled up over the last few months came out in one go.
I realised that throughout this whole infertility journey I haven’t been very kind to myself in many ways and this has had a negative effect on me. Not kind in that I didn’t allow myself to grieve properly, I bottled up any emotions that came past the point whereby I felt I should have ‘moved on’. I’ve not been kind in that I needed to recognise that I have been through a hell of a lot physically and mentally – the IVF drugs, the side-effects, the pregnancy and the miscarriage. I see that now. I also acknowledged that I just need to be nicer to myself in general. My counsellor clocked that I was quite negative when talking about ME, so I’m slowly trying to put some belief and confidence back my way. And lastly I’m trying to use better words in my head when I see pregnant women or small babies. Up until now the first emotion that would pop into my head was one of anger, I’d also physically look away and this attitude hasn’t been doing me any favours, so trying to put a positive shift on things, to think ‘that will be me soon’ has helped – this has done a lot for my mental well being.
Talking through everything with a counsellor has been a time of reflection and it’s made me see that we perhaps rushed into IVF when we probably should only be thinking about doing it now. My husband and I chose to have it because essentially I panicked about my age and low AMH score. In hindsight (big sigh) I should have given my body more of a chance but we did what felt right for us at the time. We had planned on doing another round of IVF right about now, but when I realised I needed to see a counsellor I knew there was no way I could mentally and emotionally cope with it -especially right before Xmas and our impending 40th birthdays. Deciding to put things on hold has been the best decision and I honestly feel like a weight has been lifted in deciding to take some time out. Speaking about everything out loud has given me a huge feeling of control. I’ve taken ownership of a situation that was getting the better of me, that in itself has been such a positive step for me to take.
A few other things have added to this feeling of control, and one of those things is buying a device called Ovusense. Ovusense started following me on Instagram and I found myself researching them, watching and reading reviews and also, chatting online to their very helpful Customer Relations Manager. It’s a device that will tell you when you’re going to ovulate, and the more I read about the product the more it made sense. The price wasn’t insane (£150) and the one thing I think is a grey area for me, is 1, when I ovulate and 2, whether I ovulate at all and this device will hopefully clarify this for me. Just in purchasing it, I feel like I’ve made a positive step with our fertility problems. I’m hoping it will give me some answers as to my monthly cycle that we can then perhaps work on, fix or see someone about before committing to yet more IVF.
Something else that has given me back an immense amount of control is getting myself physically fit. I have lost the additional weight I put on after the IVF medication, pregnancy, miscarriage and failed round and I feel that I’m in a really good place fitness wise. It feels great to feel this, after everything that has happened.
And lastly one thing I did which felt incredibly cathartic was to look at all of Olivia’s baby photos and videos, something I haven’t done for probably about two years. I’ve put up a lot of barriers since we’ve had our fertility problems, rightly so because those barriers protect me, and one was not looking at any baby photos, even Olivia’s – but it felt wonderful to re-connect with what she was like, her milestones etc. I felt really happy after doing this.
This whole shift stems from seeing a counsellor. I feel a bit like I’ve spent weeks walking through a dark, foggy tunnel and am slowly emerging out into the light the other side. This isn’t to say that I don’t still have bad days, I do. I found myself having to dash to the loo the other day during a friends lunch just to give myself some time out because there was so much baby talk going on – but I know I can get through these things now. I have given myself back some control and for the first time in a long time I believe in myself and in my body and what it can do, and that’s such a positive thing, I haven’t felt this for a long time. Some weight has been lifted off of my heart and I feel ready for what the future holds.