pregnancy

A letter to my past self: 'You’re in the midst trying for a baby. This is what I want you to know.'

If you’re looking for advice about options surrounding fertility, pregnancy or counselling, always consult your doctor.

Dear past me,

Don’t cry. Just don’t cry.

I know it’s hard watching friends announce their baby news when behind closed doors it’s consuming your every thought. They don’t know that every waking minute you’re trawling forums; desperately searching for a magic answer in someone else response. They don’t know that every month you spend a fortune on pregnancy tests, way more than you’d like to admit, trying to convince yourself of something that’s not there. Be happy for them, it’s not their fault those two lines won’t appear for you.

I know when you’re in the midst of trying for a baby it can be hard to see the end of it all. Tests and needles, scans and meds. But trust me on this one. For you, it will be ok.

Jacqui with her son. Image: Provided
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You have a child. He was a natural conception on the first month of trying. Who knew it was that easy? A second will surely be no trouble, you think, but he’s only eight months old- there’s plenty of time.

The ectopic pregnancy will be a shock. One minute you’ll be on a plane coming home from a holiday, unaware that you’re about to find out the next day that baby number two is already on the way.  You will barely be able to wipe the smile off your face.

But that weird pain, is that normal? You will try and ignore it, cramps can be a normal part of early pregnancy but this, this feels different. You’ll go to the doctor who will organise a scan that afternoon. It won’t show anything, so you’ll go home. At about four am the next morning you’ll fall out of bed in a world of agony. Before you know it you will be on the operating table, surrounded by doctors and bright lights, fading into shock as your body succumbs to internal bleeding.  When you wake the doctors will break the news that due to a rupture, you have lost all of the left tube.

Recovery will be slow and painful, both physically and emotionally. While the pregnancy was still in it’s early phases, a loss is still a loss and you will mourn the ideas of what was to be in your mind. The next few months will be filled with a strange mixture of guilt, confusion and wanting to hide. You’ll get sick of explaining your personal medical history to everyone but try and remember that they’re only asking out of concern.

When the scars heal you will try again for another baby.

Here’s where I need you to stay with me because this is only really the start of the journey. Months and months of hoping and wishing will pass. Each month the test will show only one line and your heart will sink a little again. You’ll try and politely laugh when strangers say hurtful things like ‘almost time for another one?” when they see you with your son. Every thought you have will be of dates, conception, supplements and blind faith but eventually you will go back and seek help.

The tests will show that for you, normal conception is not possible anymore. No one can give you an exact reason why except that your body has somehow gone into shock and has stopped producing the required hormones to have a baby. Part of you will feel relief that there is an answer and part of you will hate yourself for being so wound up in all of this. You have a healthy child which is more than some people have. You’ll know that, but the selfish desires inside can’t be calmed or silenced. It’s not just for you that you want this. You will want so badly to give your son a sibling and as time marches on you can’t help but mentally calculate the age gap getting wider and wider.

The medication they suggest has it’s down sides but your desire for a second child will be stronger than the nausea and sweating it produces. You’ll feel sorry for your husband. He’s with you every step of the way but you can see that you’re moody and horrible to be around. Even though he assures you it’s not the case, you won’t help but feel you’re letting him down. Conversations gone by of what kind of family you both dream of will float back into the centre of your thoughts. The pressure you’re placing on yourself is huge but you can’t help it.

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"I know it’s hard watching friends announce their baby news when behind closed doors it’s consuming your every thought." (Image: Supplied)

I can’t describe the elation that comes from seeing two lines on that test. They will appear after days of negatives, all because you’ll be testing too early out of hope. If you want to save a small fortune, just wait till the suggested time but I know you, you’re too eager. In fact, when you see that positive result won’t get off the bathroom floor for at least ten minutes.  After squinting and turning the test to the light for so many months, this one will be clear as day.

The day you find out it’s twins will be mind blowing. It will be exciting and scary and just, ah everything! You’ll break the news to family and friends in fun and exciting ways and plan out what life is going to be like. You do everything they say to ensure the ‘buttons’ are safe.

Please, be strong when they break the news that one of your babies has died. It will be one of the most painful moments of your life. I know you hate to cry in front of strangers but this one will really test you.

I can tell you this, a healthy baby boy will soon be in your arms and he is everything, a piece of heaven sent to heal some of the hurt. He is truly perfection and together, your boys make your heart swell. You’ll look at him in years to come and believe that he really was a gift. Even at four years of age he is a dream.

I know you’ve always wanted a big family and so the decision will be made that number three is a good idea. Again you’re told that natural conception is off the cards so back you’ll start on those meds. They’ll be just as horrible as you remember and you’ll try and hide your sickness from the world, knowing the miracle they can help you produce. But this time it isn’t working like the last time. Months and months will go by and they’ll tell you that only one more cycle will be safe. From there you’ll have to explore other options. It’s not what you want but you’ll do whatever you have to.

On your final try you will conceive another baby, a girl. You won’t believe it’s a girl despite them telling you many, many times. Ever since your mother died you’ve desperately wanted a daughter of your own so out of self protection, part of you will refuse to believe she’s actually real. When she’s born you’ll be amazed that you’ve once again been given a piece of perfection. Her delivery will be traumatic and scary but she’s worth everything. She is everything.

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Four children would be crazy, wouldn’t it- especially after everything? But there will be a niggling feeling that won’t go away around the time your baby turns one. There’s pros and cons and you’ll eventually decide that the pro’s outweigh the cons. But you know the toll the medication and tests take. It’s intensive so you’ll decide that you’ll give yourself a few months between finishing breastfeeding and starting back on the drugs.

But here’s a curveball. You’ll already be pregnant. Despite being told you will never conceive naturally, and despite only being able to get pregnant every second month (even while on medication) and despite still breastfeeding- somehow the planets aligned and you’ll be ‘that’ couple. The couple who were surprised against all odds that you would see two lines on a test without months of intervention and counting days and drawing blood.

It’s a long road but it’s worth it, I promise. You’re lucky beyond words and I wanted to tell you that while you're in the place of uncertainty and desperation. It will be ok and your heart will be full, it might just take time. Stay strong, be happy for those around you and share in their joy. Know that the path is not easy for everyone, even though it might seem that way from the outside when you’re crying alone on the floor. In years to come you will be surrounded by kids- by noise, mess, chaos and happiness and you’ll cherish every minute of it.

What has been the most difficult part of dealing with infertility for you? Answer in the Comments section below.

Mamamia's Infertility Week shines a light on the joy, the pain and everything in between when it comes to creating  families. To read more from Infertility Week, click here.

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