Our baby was about 4 years in the making, from the start of trying naturally to her doing newborn little lamb cries in our arms. And for some, that’s absolutely nothing.
I was never told I was, we were ‘infertile’ as such but post a surprising diagnosis of endometriosis, never being pregnant naturally and once ‘cleaned up’ inside after endo surgery still not getting pregnant without IVF intervention, at times it looked pretty bleak.
So many moments along the way have left me thinking ‘no way, this isn’t happening to us?’ as buzzing worries in my head would ricochet from one side of my brain to the other, slamming into one another before shattering and multiplying in to even more.
What if I can never have kids?
This was the ultimate concern. The unthinkable.
I had never ever contemplated that this would be an issue for us. I was convinced I was super fertile through my sheer longing to be a mum ‘one day’ alone. The plan (my plan) was to have two and adopt one.
‘When we have kids / when I’m a mum / when you’re a dad’ were common conversation starters. Long before trying to conceive I had ideas of ways of raising a little one, how we’d spend time together, the important things to teach and help them discover.
I am currently speaking to a number of ladies who are kindly going to share their stories of having babies against the odds that I hope to share in the coming weeks. The idea is to share the stories to raise hope and belief.
When you’re trying to conceive, you google a lot. And I found that even though I was determined in trying to ban the bad stories, there weren’t enough hopeful ones unearthed. Ones where you’re like, wow, if it can happen for that lady/couple then why not me?
So, I wanted to publish a rambling timeline that I kept in my phone along our path to parenthood. I literally found this in my notes last week and thought it might be interesting to share…perhaps. It certainly is a mix of highs and lows and of not giving up. And the ultimate happy ending. I hope to follow this up with the stories of others in the coming weeks.
Started trying naturally at the end of 2014, not really tracking ovulation and all that jazz. But not not trying.
Nothing. Still trying. Upping the ovulation tracking game. Got the fancy (expensive) battery operated ovulation device. I ovulate, that’s what it tells me. So it won’t be long now surely.
All sorts of crazy takes over. Legs up the bed headboard after sex. If John has a work trip with an early flight but I’m likely to be ovulating, I set my alarm even earlier to get the deed DONE.
- March; I have a laparoscopy following a referral to have fertility investigations. The consultant suspects endometriosis. Turns out he was right. Stage 2/3. My right ovary webbed and stuck down by the stuff. See here for more about that time.
- March – June – I’m supposed to be super fertile now after the surgery. Consultant expecting me to be pregnant, naturally, very soon.
- June – no pregnancy. Start looking into IVF and select Create Fertility as like their ‘natural as possible’ approach
Start reflexology to help the lining of my womb and to relax. Do loads of walking and go IN on yoga.
Husband doing an Iron Man so during our IVF prep his sperm count dropped but still ok enough to start proceedings
- August – Start injections to ready my bits for egg collection. Remember injecting myself in the back seat of our car at sister in laws wedding as had to be done at a certain time 😉
- 12th August – Egg collection procedure! All easy and fine. They took out 14 eggs, 11 were mature, 10 fertilised and 5 got to day 5 blastocysts. Amazing start!!
- 16th August – failed fresh embryo transfer. Found ‘lump’ at entrance to my womb. Embryos frozen. Devastated. Stand on the platform of the train station to go home, without our embryo safely inside me. Cry all the way home, people stare.
Scan a week later revealed no lump but an acute angle into my uterus. Would need operation to dilate my cervix before IVF continues.
- 16th Sept – failed hysteroscopy and cervical dilation – need to have a second attempt with 2 surgeons this time, possibly another laparoscopy to lift the womb. I’m feeling lost, like I don’t know my own body.
- 29th Oct – 3 hour surgery (was supposed to be 30 mins) in order to get into my uterus – success in the end. Coil left in to keep cervix open. Have to go back weekly to have the coil manipulated. The pain is utterly horrible. I’m panicking as the coil has a contraceptive potion on it no?
- Nov – start fertility acupuncture, weekly
- 2nd Dec – The plan with Create is to now always do a mock transfer with me to ensure that they can get in to my uterus before actually thawing any embryos. The first attempt fails as they again couldn’t get into my uterus. Devastated. First time meeting Dr Spirros/Chouliaris – loved him. Gentle and kind.
- 13th Dec – Find out sister in law is pregnant
- 14th Dec – Another new plan from Create (i must be their trickiest patient!?) – I will now always be sedated for mock and real transfers because I get panicky. And finally, success at getting into uterus! Dr Chouliaris and Dr Moses uncovered that the previous failed attempts were because the catheter (where the embryo would pass through) was going down a ‘false passage’ created during one of my surgeries. Basically a hole in the beginning of my womb was made. Once they found the right way and took loads of pics of my insides, they easily got through the cervix and canal and into my uterus! BEST NEWS. Have to heal now for 8 weeks (to close the false passage).
- Xmas 2016 – Xmas jumper get together with friends. Two of which are also on the IVF road. We start a WhatsApp group called The Pessaries.
- NYE – Decide to give up booze much like I gave up coffee. Last drink on NYE then done.
- 6th Jan – brunch with my gorge pal who lets slip that she is 6 weeks pregs (weeks away from turning 40). She shares what she’s learned along her IVF journey and gave me The Fertility Diet book. Such a positive chat and so good to talk to someone who gets it.
Go to see an Ayurvedic doctor given my body has been through a shit ton in the last year. I want to know what’s out of whack. My insides are basically too hot (sure) so we refine my diet to exclude heating foods like nuts and tomatoes.
Read The Fertility Diet by Sarah Dobbyn and love it, I refine diet even more.
I go ALL IN on holistic, complimentary therapies to look after myself once and for all.
- Womb massage
- Castor oil therapy
- Fertility affirmations on Spotify
- Gratitude journaling
- Salt/magnesium baths
- Readdressed diet further; 10 almonds a day, loads of water, no gluten, loads of fruit and veg
- Temporarily unfollowed the cool mums on Instagram and any friends on social sharing their baby pics. Not resentful, just wanted space to not put myself in a position of jealousy or desperation. Wanted to stay positive.
- Femoral massage
- Foot soaks
- End of Feb – June – So lucky to have work agree to me taking a 3 month sabbatical. In theory because I only have frozen embryos, 3 months gives me 3 opportunities to get pregnant; one transfer a month. Here goes.
- Feb – Have a session with an ‘IVF Companion’, Susie Gower. What a gorgeous lady. I get hypnotised to release any blockages.
My daily diet game is strong.
- Brazil’s, walnuts, almonds
- Beetroot juice
- Kefir, kombucha
- Supplements – omega 3 and 6, sea kelp for iodine, b12, womens probiotics, vit D, vegan digestive enzymes, biocare pregnancy and lactation.
- Coconut milk with nutmeg for good sleep
- Feb 22nd: Day 8 Scan with Dr Moses. I have a triple lining in my womb (GREAT) and its currently 6mm thick. Ideally needs to be minimum 7mm for transfer day. I carry on with Progynova 3 x day
- Feb 27th 2017: Day 1 of my 3 months off work! Day 13 scan with Dr Moses. Uterus lining now 7.5mm. Booked frozen embryo transfer for March 6th – decide on going with 1 blastocyst
Eating an avocado a day
- March 1st – start vaginal pessaries 3 x day
- March 16th – I am in pain and shivering after the embryo transfer but staying hopeful.
Not pregnant. So one attempt down. Make plans for April.
- End of March – have an appointment with Victoria Wells (Emma Cannon’s nutritionist friend) as I am unsure about the concoction of supplements I have put myself on. She is amazing and refines my selection to: Biocare pregnancy and lactation, probiotics, vitamin d, omega 3 and magnesium citrate. And have just ONE brazil nut a day, I was overdosing.
- April 2017 – Have one embryo transferred on the second attempt. Less than two weeks later I am told that I am ‘not not pregnant’. My pregnancy hormone numbers are low though, but they are doubling. Could it be? FINALLY?
- April 26th – Start bleeding at home. John is in the air, returning from a work trip. The pain becomes completely unbearable. My best friend calls me an ambulance as I can hardly get up off the floor. The rest on this is here. I have a cervical ectopic pregnancy. It breaks my heart.
Not allowed to get pregnant for 3 months at least because a chemotherapy injection was used to end the cervical ectopic pregnancy.
- June – Sept – on a health and wellbeing mission for our last attempt on the NHS.
- Sept 2017 – decide on transferring both of our remaining embryos for our final attempt.
- Sept 21st – do home pregnancy test – two lines. PREGNANT. Excited. Terrified.
- Sept 23rd – IVF clinic pregnancy blood test – HCG level is 168 – pregnant with Elodie!
Elodie Willow Gooden is born 3.5 weeks early on May 9th, weighing 5lb 12. Our hearts are full.