Infertility is estimated to affect 1 in 7 couples, but you never think it will affect you. For most, trying for a baby will be a relatively straight forward process, full of romantic nights with your partner, followed by eagerly taking a pregnancy test to see if you get those two magical lines that will change your life forever! But for some of us, trying to conceive can bring about one of the hardest and most isolating experiences of your life.
“As the months rolled on our optimism started to fade.”
Back in 2019 myself and my partner Lewys decided we were finally ready to start trying for a family. Although we knew it wouldn’t be easy due to myself having previously gone through cervical cancer treatment, we never expected things to take just as long as they did. At first trying to conceive was everything you would think. Romantic and fun, every time we were due to take a pregnancy test, we were optimistic that we would be one of the lucky ones who conceived with little trouble. However, as the months rolled on our optimism started to fade. After six months of not conceiving, we decided it would be best to look into having some tests done, to ensure my past treatment wasn’t hindering things.
We booked in with a local fertility clinic and waited for the day to arrive. Then the evening before our appointment I had a sudden urge to take a pregnancy test. Much to our surprise we got our first positive! We couldn’t believe it and excitedly rang the fertility clinic first thing in the morning to let them know our tests wouldn’t be needed.
We spent the next few weeks in a pregnancy bubble, thoughts of possible troubles conceiving quickly left our minds and all we could do was plan our new life with our little bundle of joy. But then at a private 6-week scan our world fell apart, when the sonographer heartbreakingly told us that our baby had stopped growing and I was experiencing a missed miscarriage. I felt foolish and naive in thinking that a positive pregnancy test would lead us to a healthy baby and spent weeks grieving our loss. In the time that followed myself and Lewys had many conversations on what we felt would be best going ahead. We soon decided that we needed to jump straight back into trying to conceive- this time a little apprehensive, but almost adamant we wouldn’t have to wait long. We’d gotten pregnant once, so surely it had to happen again?
The following year was filled with ovulation kits, timed intercourse, monthly heartbreak and buying as many products that claimed to with conceiving as possible. After twelve months of negative pregnancy tests, I followed the NHS guidance and got in touch with my doctors to see what our options would be, and I was soon diagnosed with unexplained infertility.
“Every pregnancy announcement I saw would leave me crying for days”
My diagnosis came as a massive shock. I had always known my cancer treatment left me at risk of issues, but I had never really allowed myself to believe that I would be infertile, and the news sent me on a downward spiral. I began to resent my body and every pregnancy announcement I saw would leave me crying for days. Luckily it was decided that we would qualify for help from the NHS and that IVF would be our best chance at having a baby, and after what felt like the longest few months filling out consent forms and attending appointments, we started our first round of IVF in October 2021.
IVF was nothing like I expected. It was emotionally and physically demanding, and it became the focal point of our lives. I struggled massively during this time, spending most days crying and worrying that all our efforts would be for nothing. Then came our egg retrieval and we got the positive news that we had managed to collect nine eggs, and by the end of the week, from those nine, we had three good quality embryos.
On the 6th of November 2021, we were called back in to our fertility clinic, where we had a day five grade 4AB embryo transferred in to my womb and started the hardest two-week wait we had experienced so far.
Against all odds our little embryo stuck, and we are now expecting a baby girl this year, with two frozen embryos waiting for us in case we do decide to try and extend our family further in the future.
“You really don’t have to do it alone!”
The years it took us to get to this point were some of the hardest and most isolating we have had to face. It is not spoken about nearly enough, but the truth is infertility is more common than any of us may think. So, if you are experiencing infertility, the best piece of advice I can give you, is to reach out and find others who are going through the same thing. There are so many of us, you really don’t have to do it alone! I can’t promise your story will end with a baby - I hope more than anything that it will - but know there is a whole host of us who are going through this and getting the right support can help make infertility a less isolating time.
You can follow Abigial’s journey over on Instagram or read more different parents’ stories here.
What I wish I had known
Baby Loss Awareness
Laura & Kelly's IUI Journey
Dean & Gary's Adoption