The next guest post in my Fertility Friday series is written by my dear friend Sam. I’ve actually already written a little bit about Sam’s pregnancy in this post. Sam and I work together, and her struggle with infertility and IVF built an incredible bond between us, as only a shared understanding of pain can. I truly will never forget the day she told me she was pregnant – my heart felt like it was going to squeeze out of my chest with happiness that finally, FINALLY!, it had happened. Despite the fact she is now in the ‘holy crap when people said I’d be tired I had no idea that they actually meant this’ stage of new motherhood, Sam has found the time to put her experience into words here.
There were a few years in my late 20s and early 30s where I really couldn’t stand Mother’s Day. All of that commercialised bull. Or so I told myself.
In reality, I resented all of those mothers out there who would wake up on that early Sunday morning in May to hear excited little foot steps running down the hall to their bedroom. And a toothless grin from a tiny little human flinging the bedroom door open, with a handmade card in one hand and burnt Vegemite toast in the other. Or maybe it would be a painted macaroni necklace and lukewarm cup of tea? There would be sloppy kisses and big hugs and all that gooey, oozey love that only tiny little humans can give.
I resented all those beautiful mums out there who would experience all those little things that I thought I never would. My husband and I started ‘trying’ when I was 27. When I say trying I mean we ditched the pill and hoped for the best. We had been together since we were 18. We had studied, gotten good jobs, a mortgage, a fur baby, and then another fur baby. We’d done all the ‘right’ things in preparation to bring a tiny human into the world.
At first we were pretty relaxed about it all. But then a year passed, and then another. By 29, we upped the ante and started to get more serious about ‘trying’. We were relatively young and healthy, and on the outside looked like we should be in our fertility prime. But no luck.
We saw specialists and were told that we had a 1% chance of conceiving naturally. It was crazy. We weren’t even in our 30s. That kind of thing happened when you were old. Turns out that all of those years of horrible period pain was actually endometriosis. That and, as the fertility doc explained, my ovaries looked like they were wearing pearl necklaces (but not the good kind). I had the double whammy – endo and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It took years for a diagnosis because I didn’t have any of the classic symptoms.
IVF was our best option. So we optimistically went for it. And despite all of our optimism and hope (and financial expense), it didn’t work for us. Emotionally, it was a rollercoaster. Cliche metaphor I know, but all my fellow IVF peeps out there, you know what I mean. We silently salute each other when we pass in the hallways. For those who haven’t had to experience it, let’s just say IVF, when it doesn’t work, is shit. Or as my husband would say, fucking horrible.
As time passed, I found myself googling ‘how to adopt in Australia’ in my lunch break (turns out that’s not a piece of cake either). Hubby and I were having those serious philosophical conversations that went something like ‘do we really want kids or do we just feel societal pressure to have kids because we’re married and in our 30s?’ and, ‘well, if we can’t have kids, we can just be a great Uncle and Aunty to the nieces and nephews and focus on travel’ and ‘maybe we could get a miniature pig?’ (yes, we really did have that conversation because three chooks, two dogs and an arsehole of a cat still didn’t fill that void).
We’d decided to focus on our careers, do a bit more travel and then give IVF, despite all of its horribleness, another go. I applied for a new job, booked a trip to India and spoke to the fertility doc about doing another round in December.
Then one afternoon in September, after not feeling so well all week, I realised I was ‘late’. I poured myself a glass of wine and ran myself a bath. This was a ritual I had developed over the years to deal with the comedown after having my hopes up that I may be pregnant. That stupid blue line had been evading me for years. Off I went with my pee stick, waiting to stare aimlessly at that imaginary line.
Within seconds, a determined, strong, bold, blue line appeared.
I was pregnant!
No rhyme nor reason to it. After years of trying, I just was. That sneaky 1% chance finally came through for us. At first my husband didn’t believe me. After years of disappointment, he’d trained himself to be the reasoned sceptic, gently talking me around in case it was a false positive so I didn’t get my hopes up and then crash and burn. So, as you can imagine, our first scan was pure magic. The rhythm of that strong heartbeat confirmed any doubt. And both of us already so in love with our tiny little human. We couldn’t believe we could be so lucky.
Now to be honest, I didn’t really enjoy pregnancy. I was bloody tired. All. The. Time. (‘Good practice for when the Bub comes’, I was told. Yeah, that’s so not funny.) I’d gone from running daily and finishing my first half marathon just months earlier to puffing while walking up two flights of stairs. While I absolutely adored my expanding belly and still get emotional when I think about that amazing feeling of my tiny little baby kicking and squirming inside me, my body just wasn’t able to do what I wanted it to do. There was definitely some adjustment needed. But how could I complain? I was just so damn relieved and happy to be experiencing all the good, bad and ugly that is pregnancy (heartburn and all).
Then, after what felt like a lifetime, she arrived. It was an early Sunday morning in May that I gave birth to my tiny little human. My tiny, perfect, love of my life, miracle, little human.
Actually, come to think of it, it was the second Sunday in May. Mother’s Day.
Happy Mother’s Day to me.