Infertility is not something I ever thought I would experience. My partner and I both come from big families, and those closest to us have had multiple children and conceived relatively easily. So when we realised there may be an issue, it came as a big shock to me.
We got married four years ago, at 26, and our plan was to spend a few years together enjoying life before trying for children. However, later that same year we thought we were pregnant. We weren’t, but it stuck in my head and suddenly my desire for children changed. I wanted them now. I guess I’d always thought, maybe naively, that you come off the pill and then you get pregnant. But actually, when you look into it more, you realise you can only conceive in a small window during the month. You learn about your body, your cycle. We then spent up until March 2020 trying.
What a rollercoaster that was. The endless negative pregnancy tests, the countless people asking when it was “our turn” to have a baby. The tears, the feelings of jealousy at pregnancy announcements online. The pressure on each other to make sure we had sex on the right day. It was draining.
I remember baby showers were particularly hard for me. I helped to plan a baby shower for my sister-in-law – the day went well and she had a great time, I put a smile on my face and distracted myself by hosting games and making sure everyone was having fun. Then, when I got home, I got in the bath and sobbed. I guess it was the first time that it hit me. We were having problems conceiving yet those around us weren’t. How unfair was that!
The years went by and we were still trying but things in our personal life were stressful. My father–in–law was suffering with cancer and then my husband lost his job. When people were asking when we would be announcing some happy news, I would tell them it wasn’t the right time; maybe next year. My husband kept saying that by the end of the year we would be pregnant. Those times came and went and still nothing. People would even ask before we went on holidays. “Holiday baby?! You never know, when you relax it happens!”
People around us didn’t know about the heartbreak behind closed doors. It’s not the norm to discuss what’s going on with that part of your life. You aren’t expected to tell anyone until you’re at least 12 weeks pregnant, but all I wanted to do was shout from the rooftops: “We are trying our hardest! It’s just not happening! Stop asking us!”
We’d put our struggle down to stress, but by March 2020 I realised that things weren’t quite right, so we went to the GP. He was fantastic and laid out our options, recommending that we get our initial blood tests and sperm analysis. My husband and I learned that he had a low sperm count, hence lowering the chances of us conceiving naturally, and we were referred to the hospital for further tests. We were relieved to have some answers and actually took it as a good thing, having many discussions about our options.
By now (September 2020) we have embarked on these tests to check how we are doing. The tests weren’t very pleasant – lots of internals and blood tests – but I just keep thinking of the end goal. We are now waiting on our appointment with a consultant, which is booked for the end of October, and we are so ready for it.
What has infertility taught me? Infertility has taught me that my marriage is strong, through the good times and the bad times we support each other. It’s showed me I am stronger than I ever thought I was. It’s having a support network around you, people who are there when you need lifts to appointments, a text to see how you’re doing or a shoulder to cry on during those bad days. I have had to educate myself in a world I knew nothing about. I ask anyone going through this journey, don’t do it alone. Whether you’re a couple or a single person, have a support network around you. Even if it’s just one other person.