Motherhood After Infertility

I’m not sure where to start with this. There are plenty of stories out there on blogs about the exhausting and exaperating journey that is infertilty treatment; there are even some pieces about adjusting to motherhood after infertilty treatment has been successful.

But my story is a little different.

Although I went through 6 failed rounds of IUI treatment, and it was discovered I had a polycystic ovary (but not the syndrome); I never had any fertility issues myself. But for many years, I did believe that there must be something. I mean, in IUI the sperm is injected directly into the womb, and I went through the Clomid/injectables everyday to release multiple follicles and stimulate ovulation…how can you not get pregnant from that??

I don’t know if it was something medical or just not meant to be. The more I researched the success rates of IUI though, the more it looked like it was something that barely ever worked; and even less so with frozen sperm cells.

As a consequence of those years, I didn’t expect much success when I met my new partner. But still, you can’t just switch off years of yearning for a child. I figured it would take a year or so. It took 6 weeks.

So here I am, with a naturally-conceived 8 month old, and 4 months pregnant because I must have ovulated before I ever managed to have a period after starting to wean off breastfeeding.

After everything that’s gone before, it is a weird place to be in. On the one hand, it’s made me¬†incredibly¬†grateful for my babies. I still look at Aurora in amazement. I feel incredibly lucky and honoured that even though both pregnancies were technically unplanned, these two have chosen me to be their mama and I’m finally united with them.

On the other hand, I share a lot of feelings that many mothers who become pregnant after infertility face. For a start, when I took my first positive pregnancy test I couldn’t actually believe it was a) real and b) mine. It took until about the 12 week scan and seeing her on the little screen for me to finally accept that it was actually happening. To me.

Then there’s the anxiety that inevitably you face during pregnancy – it’s just turned up when it’s been after infertility (or miscarriage/infant loss I would imagine). Like shifting your mindset out of the expectation that everything always went wrong before, so why should it be any different now?

Guilt is also a big one. You feel guilty for getting annoyed, not being a perfect mother, for sometimes being too tired to deal with a screaming baby, for any time you feel jealous that you can’t just nip out on a jolly for the day like you used to. Because you wanted this for years and you should be grateful…

Then for anyone who finds themselves in a similar position to what has happened to me, there’s kind of a third hand.

People seem to automatically assume that having a baby is the end of it, like you can draw a line in the sand and suddenly now everything is cushdy. Except you can’t.

It didn’t matter that the physical aspect of infertility was not within myself, because it affected me too on an emotional and physical level. I still went through the treatment cycles, the hope, the drugs making you feel like you were pregnant until the day you caved in took a test and saw the single line…and the picking yourself off the floor afterwards.

It fucking hurt and it left scars that no-one will ever see, but will remain.

I spent years avoiding babies and small children because i’d just go home and end up in tears. Fast-forward 18 months and I’m suddenly thrust into Baby and Toddler group – surrounded by them and not really having a fucking clue how to act towards them.

But nobody’s really aware of that side. Certainly not when I’m already pregnant again. People assume I’m lucky, daft, careless. But they don’t know the full story.

And on this third hand, there’s also extra helpings of guilt. Because there’s no reason I can’t get pregnant, so my identity of ‘trying to conceive’ is no longer a present part of me. I feel guilty for all the people who don’t have another choice. I feel guilty for still having the scars. I often feel unjustified for feeling the way I do.

But mine isn’t the only situation where this arises. Women often feel unjustified for feeling how they do in this society. Time to own our stories.