2017 was, without doubt, the best year of my life.
I was 38 years old and feeling that my life-proper was about to begin. I was overjoyed to marry the man who brightens my life every day. We moved into the first house we had chosen together (rented for now, but nonetheless…ours). Our families came together for a beautiful summer wedding celebration. Our friends gathered for a night of revelry to toast our union. We spent three wonderful weeks on honeymoon exploring the southern states of the USA.
We really couldn’t have asked for more.
In January 2018, I began the year on a high, eager to work towards our next adventure of having a baby, a brand new little person to complete our family.
I stopped birth control, which in my case meant stopping the progesterone only pill. We were lucky and my cycle normalised within weeks.
I also quit smoking, something that had a tight hold on me for the last 15 years.
We took a last holiday to Mexico to enjoy the world (and alcohol) as a twosome.
Pre-pregnancy preparations complete, we excitedly ‘began trying’.
TTC (Trying To Conceive)
We weren’t completely naive and we knew that, with me being 38 and he 37, we may not find it easy to conceive. So I tried to give myself the best chance. I joined an online forum of women, all trying to conceive, and was immersed in a world of fertility-related acronyms, and a range of new practices to incorporate into my daily routine.
I started taking conception supplements. I began tracking my basal body temperature (or BBT) every morning, so I would know when I had ovulated (the science being that after ovulation, your BBT will increase between 0.2 and 0.5 degrees Celsius). I introduced OPKs into my world, small sticks that you pee on that let you know when you have a luteal hormone surge, which usually indicates you are about to ovulate and should probably ‘get busy’.
All these things I did without complaint, knowing that if, and when, they worked, it would be a small price to pay.
I won’t lie, despite knowing the facts – there is only around a 20% chance of conceiving in any given cycle, and that’s if you’re young, have no medical issues and have sex when you’re fertile – I was still upset when our first attempt failed and my period (or AF – Aunt Flo) arrived.
Cycle two came and went with no joy. “Never mind”, we thought, “it’s still early, maybe next month”.
When we got to month three, we had a trip planned to visit friends in Switzerland midway between ovulating and my period. “We’ll just relax”, we thought, “enjoy our time with our friends and think about all this when we get back”. I took no tests, no thermometer, I had no way of checking whether I was pregnant or not.
But two things happened while we were away.
The first, I began to spot. Not unusual for many women, but I never spot until the day of my period.
The second, the apartment our friends live in had a huge nest on its chimney. And the residents? Only a family of storks! We’re not prone to superstition, but even we had to wonder at this, could it be a sign?
Thrilled cannot adequately explain how we felt when we got home from Switzerland and the very next morning, found out we had done it. We were pregnant! The sight of the second pink line on the pregnancy test immediately became the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Telling my husband was the best thing I had ever done.
My mind began to rush forward, imagining stroking my swollen belly as I ‘bloomed’, picking out a beautiful mobile to decorate the nursery, welcoming our new arrival (I skipped over the pain part). I dreamed of watching our baby sleep in my arms, the gentle rise and fall of its chest. Seeing my baby smile when I come close, knowing somehow that I’m the person that grew them.
And just like that, in the blink of an eye, I became a mum.
Unfortunately, the eye kept on blinking, and when the eyelid once again reopened, my whole world did a 180. No more pregnancy, no more January baby, no more family-of-three. All our dreams came crashing down to earth at nearly 10 weeks pregnant when we went for an ultrasound scan and heard the words every expectant mother dreads to hear, ‘I’m sorry, but there’s no heartbeat’…