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Trying to conceive can be a lonely and isolating place

As is the way for many, my fertility struggles crept up on me. I slid into being 1 in 8 when I wasn’t looking. I’d never had any reason to think there’d be a problem, my periods had always been regular and I was fit and healthy. I have curvy hips which once prompted a friend to say ‘You look like you’d get pregnant easily’. This made me smile at the time, as we’d only just embarked on our trying to conceive journey and I believed it’d be true. Each month we’d eagerly await the time we could reliably test, analyzing every possible early pregnancy symptom, which cruelly are very similar to symptoms of your period arriving. Each month we felt just a little crushed at the sight of that one line. Were we doing it right? Why wasn’t it working?

As the months passed by, hopefulness and excitement slowly morphed into frustration, fear, and eventually, obsession. I would dream of seeing two lines on a white stick and of having a lovely round belly, full of a baby. Then I’d wake and feel grief wash over me. Then guilt. I hadn’t lost anything; I didn’t have any right to feel grief. I needed to get a grip. I could do better than that. And anyway, it was probably just a matter of time. Sadly, I’m sure this cycle of thinking will be familiar to many. It’s not helpful that we beat ourselves up for feeling sad about something that is sad.

I spent two and a half years struggling to manage my obsession with getting pregnant. It affected my whole life in ways I would never have anticipated. Trying to conceive, for good or bad, became my sole purpose. When I was standing in the queue in a coffee shop, my mind would be going over dates and calculations, working out the optimum time to have sex. When I was in a meeting at work, I would be arguing with myself about whether to take a pregnancy test a day earlier than I’d decided to allow myself to. On the train home, I was wondering whether I should have done that shoulder stand for an extra two minutes, as that could have been the one thing that made the difference between my dreams coming true and trudging on in this state of semi-existence.

The trying / struggling to conceive journey can be a lonely and isolating place. It’s not easy to talk about; people don’t know what to say. If you’re a stressed-out parent with a toddler who’s causing havoc in a supermarket, you can exchange wry smiles with other parents, the older generation who’ve been there, or basically anybody else who happens to be around.

Being a parent is hard work but feeling frustrated because your child won’t put down the bag of sweets and move on to the shampoo aisle or being exasperated because your child has thrown their food all over the floor (again), are actually Good Problems to Have. I say this because they’re relatable. You can use them to bond with others, they make good anecdotes and you know that however annoying these things are at the time, you’re blessed to be experiencing them.

Infertility is a Bad Problem to Have. When you’re self-consciously brushing tears from your cheeks, overcome with emotion in the nappy aisle, there’s nobody there rolling their eyes with you or offering an understanding smile. When you have to leave the room because someone has announced their pregnancy and they’ve only been trying a couple of months, you’re pulling yourself together alone in the toilets. This doesn’t make an amusing anecdote over dinner with friends, later. It makes people uncomfortable. I want to change that. I want it to be okay to say ‘hey, I’m struggling to get pregnant and it’s tough’ and for people to know what to say back.

In the end it was a matter of time for us. And also a matter of medical intervention. God bless IVF for giving us our beautiful daughter. We’re blessed to have our happy ending, but the struggle to get there changed me and I found I had an overwhelming urge to write it all down, to share my story with the many, many others for whom the struggle is still real.

In April this year, I published my book Warrior. My warts and all account of my journey to conceive. My hope is that it may make some fellow sufferers feel a bit less alone, a bit less like they’re going insane and maybe raise a few smiles and laughs along the way. My little contribution to the struggling to conceive community.

Love Tori x

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