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The Path to Conception

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The Path To

CONCEPTION

My struggle through trying to conceive.

Jess James

Copyright © 2016 Jess James

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 1530891329

ISBN-13: 978-1530891320

 

DEDICATION

 

 

Dedicated to my amazing and patient husband, my family and friends – everyone who has been there with me through this difficult and challenging time.

CONTENTS

 

 

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|=. p<{color:#000;}. ABOUT THE AUTHOR |=. p<{color:#000;}. I | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 1 |=. p<{color:#000;}. HOPES AND DREAMS |=. p<{color:#000;}. 1 | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 2 |=. p<{color:#000;}. THE CLOCK THAT KEEPS TICKING |=. p<{color:#000;}. 4 | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 3 |=. p<{color:#000;}. TOO MUCH INFORMATION |=. p<{color:#000;}. 7 | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 4 |=. p<{color:#000;}. WHOSE BUSINESS IS IT ANYWAY |=. p<{color:#000;}. 11 | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 5 |=. p<{color:#000;}. FORUM FRIENDS |=. p<{color:#000;}. 14 | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 6 |=. p<{color:#000;}. PATIENCE IS A VIRTURE |=. p<{color:#000;}. 18 | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 7 |=. p<{color:#000;}. WHEN LIFE GETS IN THE WAY |=. p<{color:#000;}. 20 | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 8 |=. p<{color:#000;}. SYMPTOM OVERLOAD |=. p<{color:#000;}. 23 | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 9 |=. p<{color:#000;}. LETTING MYSELF GO |=. p<{color:#000;}. 26 | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 10 |=. p<{color:#000;}. EVERYONE AND EVERYWHERE |=. p<{color:#000;}. 29 | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 11 |=. p<{color:#000;}. YOU JUST CAN’T PLAN THESE THINGS |=. p<{color:#000;}. 32 | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 12 |=. p<{color:#000;}. WHAT IF? |=. p<{color:#000;}. 35 | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 13 |=. p<{color:#000;}. BETTING ON ODDS |=. p<{color:#000;}. 37 | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 14 |=. p<{color:#000;}. THE NEXT CHAPTER |=. p<{color:#000;}. 41 | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}.  
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p<{color:#000;}. A FINAL NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

 

Jess James grew up in the United Kingdom and has always enjoyed writing. It wasn’t until she faced one of her biggest challenges in life, trying to get pregnant, that she felt passionate about sharing her story with the public.

 

The Path to Conception, is Jess’ first published work, and she hopes to now start on her next memoir which will enlighten readers to the next phase of her journey towards becoming a mother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter one

hopes and dreams

 

 

I am one of the many women out there desperate to start my own family. From a very early age I always dreamt about becoming a mother, however, only in my late thirties did I start that journey towards parenthood. Like many women life got in the way. I hadn’t met my life partner and therefore I missed the opportunity to start having children in my early twenties.

I met my husband in my early thirties, and like many couples we spent a few years dating, before moving in together. Only then did we start our ambitions to save for our future: a house, marriage and children. We didn’t feel rushed into this fairy tale future, and whilst a family was always on our agenda, we felt that we had plenty of time on our side.

It was the year I turned thirty-seven that we finally walked down the aisle. It was the best day of my life, and we were all set for our future together and what that would bring us. We had decided to start trying for children almost immediately after our honeymoon. Whilst I acknowledged that I wasn’t the youngest of my friends reaching this milestone in my life, I certainly had no concerns at that stage about being a more mature mother. For us, this was the right time to begin our family planning.

I certainly didn’t expect that getting pregnant would be difficult. Whilst I had seen a handful of my friends having problems trying to conceive, most were able to overcome these quite quickly. A few people I knew had unfortunately experienced early pregnancy loss, however I hadn’t thought that far ahead myself. I certainly never imagined that anything like that would happen to me. After all, I felt young for my thirty-seven years, I was in good shape and I looked after myself. Those are the right ingredients for a guaranteed pregnancy, right? Wrong!

I was quickly given a big fat reality check. After several months of trying we had zero success, and my expectations of getting pregnant by year end had not been fulfilled. I started to second guess myself and my pre-conceptions around the entire process of family planning. As a couple, we endured month after month of trying, and soon my eyes were wide open to a completely new world that I didn’t even know existed. This new world called, ‘Trying to Conceive after the age of thirty-five’.

My age itself was rapidly being highlighted as a major factor that could be preventing our ability to fall pregnant, something I had not questioned before we started. I was becoming exposed to and educated by statistics and information that I had been oblivious to in the past – declining fertility rates, potential fetal abnormalities and miscarriage. All factors that may potentially require medical intervention should we hope to achieve our goal of becoming parents. I was healthy, yet I felt as though someone was pulling the rug out from under me, purely because I had left it too late to start trying for our baby.

What had seemed at first an easy process of having unprotected intercourse and falling pregnant in a few short months now became a process of dates, timing, techniques and a personal obsession with an outcome I could not control.

This is my story, my highs and lows, my thoughts, experiences and sometimes irrational feelings about trying to conceive as a woman over the age of thirty-five. I offer no advice or guidance, but I truly hope that my story helps connect with others like me; those who have perhaps struggled to reach their dream of motherhood. The women who have felt helpless against their own bodies and Mother Nature.

This is for every woman who has ever been in my position.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter two

the clock that keeps ticking

 

 

Experts tell us that egg production peaks in our mid-twenties, and that trying to have a baby over the age of thirty-five will mean an uphill struggle for women as our fertility continues to decrease year after year. So really, I am just another statistic at the age of thirty-seven.

Having said that, nowadays, many more women are starting their journey to parenthood in their thirties, with many almost forty or over. Lifestyles have changed, people want careers, travel, savings, and many are leaving their plans to have families until much later in life. So what does this really mean for fertility and the future of motherhood?

As I embarked on my conception journey, doctors seemed to want to label me with all sorts of endearing terms. I’ve been branded as a geriatric, aging mother-to-be, advanced maternal age, or even elderly parent. It sometimes felt as though I should be asking for a walking stick and perhaps the directions for the nearest old age home, rather than advice on my fertility prospects. None of this makes a woman feel wonderful about entering motherhood in her late thirties, and at times it felt that the medical profession forgets that there is a human being with fears and anxieties behind the age bracket. All I was seeking was medical support, advice and nurturing, something I would have hoped to expect during such an apprehensive and unfamiliar chapter in my life.

Rather than words of support or encouragement, I felt that I was mostly met with the risks and warnings about my prospects of motherhood. Perhaps I should have just given up? But, I’m not the only woman in the world who has left her decision to become a parent so late in life. There are plenty of pregnant women in their late thirties and early forties. Was it too much to ask for a little bit of sensitivity?

Of course, naturally I understand that it is best to try for children earlier in life, but the reality nowadays is that is not always practical. Of course, we could all go and get knocked up in our early twenties – problem solved. Yet, that wasn’t how life played itself out for me, and whilst I would be a mother with a teenager by now, I wouldn’t have fulfilled the things in life I had wanted to before starting this journey. Essentially, I wasn’t ready to be a mother then, but I am now.

Right or wrong, my motherhood journey did start later than expected, however I’m not going to let that stop me. I’m fully committed to my dream of becoming a mother, and whilst age may be a factor, if willpower and passion are any influence I will have my baby!

Why can’t we have a medical profession that balances the focus between encouragement and support, preparing women like me, over the age of thirty-five, to start their journey towards parenthood? Of course we want to understand the risks, but we also need the resources, information and reinforcement to help us with the anxiety and uncertainty that we are about to face in trying to conceive.

Now wouldn’t that be nice?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter three

too much information

 

 

So everything felt as though I had a constant, ticking time bomb sitting over my head. I was trying to conceive, yet this was not something I could plan or control. I needed to make every minute count if I wanted to become a mother. I was constantly reminded that time would soon run out, that I could not waste one single month, and so I researched the hell out of conception cycles, ovulation, testing windows and more.

The problem was the amount information out there, with many different opinions on when you should be having intercourse in your cycle, what positions are best for success, what time of day and even what you should eat, drink and think before, during and after the event. Anyone would think that making a child was virtually impossible the way some of these books read. So what is right and what is wrong, and how do you guarantee success?

Technology is amazing and can be a helpful guiding force when trying to conceive but in many ways it can be an inhibitor. With too much information at my fingertips I was quickly becoming obsessed with dates and timing, tests and signs. Rather than making this a time where we were eagerly anticipating what could be, I was over-analysing every signal, over-thinking the entire process, all to ensure that we were guaranteed the best chance of conceiving each cycle. But there are no guarantees in this game! Instead, it started to become more clinical than natural, and my poor husband became the unsuspecting victim of my misguided fixation and control of the process.

Sadly, we started to skip the foreplay or sexy underwear at certain times of the month. We were on a mission, and it was more about just doing it, here and now, and down to the business end of things to get the result we wanted. Where had the romance gone? I started to time our conception down to the exact day and I would have ovulation indicators aplenty at my disposal. As soon as I got the indication that we were ready to conceive, I became a woman on a mission, and the three to four days following it was go-go-go!

After that, to be honest, we were both far too exhausted to resume normal sexual relations. The concept of intimacy and romance would dwindle over the following week as we both needed to regain our energy and interest. It was hard! It was as though we were switching this sexual machine on and off, and when the dates were right, everything was so intense. As a couple, we needed to find a balance between the two. So how do couples really manage this? I’m sure that my husband felt his wife had suddenly turned into Jekyll and Hyde. What other explanation was there for such erratic behaviour?

Like many couples, we were not successful first time around, or the second, third or even fourth. Month after month we tried, and soon each cycle simply became a repeat of the one before and it felt like one big waiting game. After our frantic love-making marathon (if that’s what you call it) I would have to wait out the following two weeks for the expected date of my period to arrive. This was the dreaded two-week-wait, and it brought with it a whole new set of anxieties, as each day seemed to drag slowly through to the next, and all the while I hoped and prayed for a positive pregnancy test at the end of it all.

Every single symptom gave me signals of hope; yet paranoia, anxiety and reality told me to hold those celebrations until I had absolute confirmation from a little testing stick that I would dip into my urine on day twenty-eight. Anticipation and impatience would tempt me to test early, yet for some reason I always held off. I would convince myself that I was somehow tempting fate with my foolish eagerness. I found these two weeks difficult each month. The world was still turning, work was often busy, things were happening with friends and family, and yet my only thought was, am I pregnant?

It wasn’t something I could talk about out loud, as it didn’t even make sense sometimes to me. I was filled with a myriad of thoughts, doubts, fears and hopes that constantly swam around inside my psyche. It was always there, and it wasn’t something I even spoke openly to my husband about. Like most sensible people, I knew his advice would be to keep myself occupied and try to put it out of my mind, but I couldn’t. It was always there, and I’m not sure that there was even one hour in any day where my mind didn’t wander towards the, what if, that hung over my head.

As I would finally reach the end of my cycle, I’d feel a little peace, and the unknowing was ended for me. However, there were times where even a negative test on day twenty-eight still had me holding glimmers of hope if I hadn’t experienced the start of my period. Stupid I know, but I had to hope for something! Sometimes I would even continue to test until my period arrived, and then I could finally close the chapter for one more month, and the process would start all over again. Another waiting game, as I would be willing away time over the first two weeks of my cycle until my ovulation dates arrived.

You probably read this, thinking I had become some kind of crazed-obsessed woman. Mind you, this was all going on in my head, and on the outset I was still operating my normal lifestyle. Very strange right? However, I’m sure that many women will sympathise with some of my efforts and extremes, others may have even more elaborate stories. We all cope with the unknown and anxiety differently, this was my way. I’ll admit freely that I was a planner. It was difficult for me that this process was so unpredictable and so I planned it where I could.

For me, each monthly cycle was an endless merry-go-round that never seemed to stop. It just kept turning around and around through one cycle and onto the next. I was the helpless passenger, just waiting for something exciting to happen, hoping that Mother Nature’s graciousness would finally press the brakes, allowing me to disembark and move to the next ride – pregnancy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

chapter four

whose business is it anyway

 

 

What was interesting for me was that as soon as I started mentioning to people that we had started trying for a family, everyone had an opinion to share. Right or wrong, good or bad, the advice, hints and tips I was suddenly receiving made it all sound so very easy to fall pregnant. So what was I doing wrong?

Whilst the mechanics of actually falling pregnant aren’t exactly rocket science, my body certainly wasn’t going to make it easy for me. I was well aware after a few months of trying that there was a certain amount of luck, timing, genetics and anatomy that were different for each couple and each circumstance. There was no one set way to get pregnant fast!

So there are no real answers, and I say ignore the voices of opinion that continue to offer so-called words of wisdom. What works for one, certainly doesn’t work for another. I learned that the hard way, as I kept switching about based on each new fad, technique or idea that was thrown my way. My husband merely went along with my eccentrics, I guess he was happy to just be guided. I, however, was on a mission to find the perfect pregnancy cure.

Guess what? It doesn’t exist!

So now the question is, what do you do about all this well-intentioned advice, the comments, opinions or stories about your chances of getting pregnant? Many women like me are naïve to the process. We are desperately seeking answers, vulnerable and sometimes inexperienced to this new world of family planning, and we are struggling for support and solace through an already difficult time. So the answer is plain and simple from my perspective: ignore it all. Whilst everyone wants to have a say, it is my body. Whilst it would be easy to yo-yo through different methods and suggestions, I felt I was doing myself more disfavour by not being consistent.

So how did I manage it? Well I’m never going to change opinion, and I certainly didn’t want to offend. Everyone is proud of their success when they have children and I don’t want to take that away from them. So I didn’t object, I listened and took what I wanted from this advice and guidance. But in the end in conversation, I politely agreed and nodded, and I did what was best for me to reduce my own anxiety and confusion.

To be honest, it was mostly harmless advice such as options for natural therapies, hypnotherapy, herbs and vitamins, different diets or interestingly standing on my head immediately after intercourse. I actually tried that last one a few times, and was probably more at risk of injuring myself than getting pregnant!

The hardest was when I heard the commentary that judged me and my choices on this journey. Statements that I started too late to have children, or that I should already be looking at alternative options such as IVF, adoption, or even surrogacy are at best hurtful. When and if I cross that bridge, it will be based on a decision made by me and my husband together and nobody else.

My all-time favourite remarks had to be: relax and it will just happen, or even better, if you just stop thinking about it you’ll probably fall pregnant by surprise. Of course! Why didn’t I think of that? Naturally, I should just snap my fingers and switch off my every waking desire to become pregnant, just completely forget about it for a month or two.

Seriously though, if I followed everyone’s advice, I would never have had time to actually try to conceive, let alone get pregnant.

In a sense however, these comments did give me some perspective, reminding me that I needed to do what was right for me, follow my own plan and stick to it. There may be a right or wrong, and perhaps there could be an easier way, but truth be told, I would never know that for sure. I had to keep trying and continue to hope that soon my day would come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

chapter five

forum friends

 

 

When I first started trying to conceive, I felt like I was on my own, just guessing my way through the entire process. That’s the beauty of the internet; the questions I didn’t feel I could ask a doctor or my friends – you know the silly ones that you think you should know, but you don’t – I could just put them in a search engine and, voila, I was given a myriad of answers and information. Some of it was rubbish and could be easily disregarded, but I was finding out more and more each day with my laptop as my primary confidante.

I found myself scouring the internet for different tips, advice, information and success stories, all with the intention of giving me hope and confidence that I was not fooling myself by continuing to try month after month. Amidst the myriad of information that came up in my searches were the group chats and forums of women like me who were in the same position.

These baby boards and forums were a whole new world for me. I was quickly becoming engrossed in the lives of other anonymous women who I had never met, many from different ends of the planet. Between all of us, we had one main thing in common; we all wanted to get pregnant. It became easy to simply immerse myself in that online world, chatting away with women on the many different topics surrounding pregnancy. I felt that I could be completely open on these forums, and it didn’t matter if at times I was crazy, erratic or anxious. I could be myself and there was no judging or cynicism and I could ask the silliest of questions without feeling self-conscious.

The downside was that these forums could easily become addictive, and possibly fuelled my fixation on my attempts to get pregnant, and I did find it hard to switch my mind off the subject when I knew that I had this outlet at the tip of my fingers every day.

Where these forums did help was that I could segregate my need to talk about my concerns, frustrations and insecurities to a group that would listen. In a normal social situation, you cannot just bring up the subject of trying to conceive and even if you do, it doesn’t commandeer the entire conversation. My friends didn’t want to hear the ongoing and intimate intricacies of my ovulation dates, symptoms that may indicate a possible pregnancy or even my frustration and hurt when I didn’t get a positive pregnancy result at the end of each cycle.

It was also a comfort knowing that within these group forums were women exactly like me, in my position and we were all there for the same reason. Unlike many of my real friends, many who already had children, these women on the forums were experiencing the same anticipation, anxiety, highs and lows and sometimes the disappointment with me. Whilst we were all on different cycles, we actively encouraged each other in our efforts to conceive, celebrated the successes and empathised with the set-backs.

What was reassuring on these forums was the complete anonymity. My username was a unique nickname, and I didn’t have to provide any further personal information. Whilst I had never met anyone on these forums, I could easily share much more with them than I would share with my closest friends, and sometimes even my husband! I could be myself, no holds barred, sharing my innermost fears, frustrations and worries. It was liberating.

Each morning I looked forward to logging in to scour the new posts and take part in conversations. The site link quickly became a favourite on my laptop, iPad and also my work computer. I could be easily distracted from work and other priorities with one click through to the forum page, and it soon became my crutch more than anything else when my future was still so unknown and unpredictable.

Was this a healthy or unhealthy addiction to these group baby forums? At times I certainly felt an intervention may be required, and even my husband would roll his eyes as he’d pass by my monitor and the familiar chat pages were on display. Perhaps it was a little too much, but they certainly helped to provide some sanity throughout the complete insanity of the all-consuming and unrelenting world of trying to conceive. It was starting to feel as though month after month I was getting no further than where I had originally started.

So what is right or wrong?

Honestly, I don’t have the answer. My learning was to try to build a healthy balance between my reliance on these online forums and my real life support network; my husband, family and friends. Looking back, I can recognize that my balance was not healthy at times, but then again, I needed someone to talk to, desperately; someone who would listen with an understanding ear. It was those moments where my anonymous friends proved to be the support I needed. I am grateful to have found this network, as this path would have been a lot harder to travel along on my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

chapter six

patience is a virtue

 

 

At the beginning of each new month I would start with a renewed hope and will to succeed, dreaming of what could be if we finally got our positive pregnancy result. Twenty-eight days later I would feel frustrated, dejected and hopeless as the reality of having to start all over again was forced upon me. It was the same pattern, month after month, and each time I wondered how many more times I needed to go through this. How much longer would I need to wait until I finally got my day?

There are certainly times where I felt I should take a break, stop for a month or two. Yet, something inside of me sent out a warning, perhaps next month could be the month? In many respects it is like gambling. Every round has a chance of success, and in my quest to win, I just kept playing. If I skipped a round, I could miss out on the jackpot, and I just didn’t want to take that chance. At my advancing age, I couldn’t afford to do that.

I have met many women who have told me that they tried for years to conceive – plural. I’m honestly not sure how they kept up the stamina and persistence for so long. Personally I found everything about this process exhausting, both mentally and physically. Surely, something had to give? Yet I wanted my baby, and perhaps it is just that which keeps them going. I certainly was not ready to stop just yet.

However, there were considerations I had to think about. What about my lifestyle, my well-being and my marriage? I was quite certain that my husband would soon tire of being on such a rigid and restrictive schedule after a certain period. I’m sure that at times he missed the spontaneity of our relationship; I know I did. We often spoke positively about our prospects, assuring each other that it would happen soon, but what if it didn’t? When did we finally call it quits? Even more so, when did we decide that we needed to seek professional help?

These questions circled around inside of my head every single time I saw that negative test and my cycle had to start over yet again. My patience had already started to wear thin, but giving up was not an option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

chapter seven

when life gets in the way

 

 

What happens when suddenly your social calendar needs to mix with your conception calendar? Can these two work together, or was I expecting the impossible?

I created a monthly cycle calendar for myself. It was the easiest way to track and document my ovulation dates, period and any other related events that were relevant to our baby-making mission. It’s a simple calendar based within an application on my mobile phone, so it was with me wherever I went. Therefore, when I received an invitation to any social events, I had immediate access to how this may have impacted our chances of conception.

Now this may all sound very sad and perhaps selfish, but when you’ve been riding this cycle for several months an additional wait of twenty-eight days can be absolute torture. It all may sound a little bit bonkers but I know many women like me feel exactly the same. I don’t like it, but I can’t seem to avoid it. Yet I do wonder, what is the compromise here?

Missing out on one cycle is not my preference. Each cycle is a chance to conceive, a chance to become a mother. However, I certainly didn’t want to opt out of life and my social circles. Who knew how much longer we would be trying for? I couldn’t place myself on hold forever! So essentially, I could well be damned if I did and damned if I didn’t.

My only solution was to find creative ways around it. Clearly every month I had my ovulation block out days. There was no compromise there, but it’s not as though we were having intercourse the entire time! In fact, it’s not recommended as it depreciates the male sperm. True fact! So I certainly didn’t need to be a hermit during that time. Outside of that the cycle was merely a waiting game, and sometimes finding things to do was helpful to keep the month interesting, distracting me from our mission to conceive. The only caveat was what I could eat or drink during this time.

Like many women I didn’t change my diet significantly, but I did reduce my alcohol intake, and I certainly did not drink during my two-week wait. Whilst there is no absolute right or wrong, many doctors advised that it could reduce the quality of my eggs, and given my maturing years, I really could not risk further depletion of my already aging eggs.

Perhaps I was not the social butterfly I was a few years back, but in many respects, I certainly won’t be out every night with a new-born baby. For me it was a small compromise to make on this journey that I had been dedicated to for so long. If I was really serious about becoming a mother, I had to give it my entire commitment. I needed to feel that I had done everything in my power to get there, even if ultimately I was never successful.

Nonetheless, I could still find a way to maintain my friendships and my social circle, just not in the same way I did in the past. It was a compromise, but for me it was all or nothing, and I wanted it all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

chapter eight

symptom overload

 

 

For someone who has never been pregnant I could have easily been be fooled into thinking that I was an expert in pregnancy symptoms given my obsession with them. Each month, after ovulation, the dreaded two-week-wait began, and so did my overactive imagination!

Suddenly I was convinced that my boobs felt tender, that I was extra thirsty or perhaps even a little nauseous. I had started reading online and through my forums about the symptoms of early pregnancy and what I could be experiencing if in fact I was pregnant. I started to believe that I did indeed have these symptoms. Squeezing my boobs a certain way certainly felt more tender than normal, and I would find myself going to the bathroom more often, convincing myself that my bladder was more sensitive. Half of me kept willing the symptoms to appear, and in my head I was making myself sick with constant over thinking of every niggle and twinge. I told myself it was all a positive sign, that I would get my positive result at the end of the month.

Sadly, each month I would feel the bitter let down of my own body and my imagination, and most of what I had been feeling or experiencing was either pre-menstrual symptoms or perhaps nothing at all.

The imagination and the mind are incredibly powerful tools. There were times where I persuaded myself that even though I had my period it may not in fact be my menstrual cycle. That the lightness of the flow was a sign of implantation rather than the end of my cycle, and I would take a further test after my period had ended hoping that my theory might be correct. Of course I was proven wrong, but I had to hope, and stranger things have happened. I read many examples where women had not suspected they were pregnant, experiencing periodic bleeding and assuming it was their normal cycle. But that is the exception, not the norm, and I had to stop disillusioning myself with false hopes.

My rational side continued to remind me that I needed to get some perspective on my efforts to conceive. I needed to focus on what was important, but give my mind and my body a break from the constant over-thinking and fixation I was experiencing around the entire process. The reality is that this is difficult. Even in the midst of a busy day in the office, I would find my mind wandering in meetings. I would be feeling my stomach, taking extra toilet trips, and never truly escaping the unknowing that surrounded me throughout that two-week-wait!

Am I the extreme of all women trying to conceive? Perhaps. There are times where I felt I needed to hide this preoccupation with getting pregnant from the open public, even my husband, my family and my friends. I have been known to secretly store my pregnancy tests away, knowing the build-up in my mind to the actual date that I could test was part of my own anxiety. Then, when the coast was clear and the time was right I would quietly take my time in the bathroom to await the results.

In our small bathroom, I found it hard not to just stare at that little stick, willing it to produce that one extra line that would send me into a frenzy of excitement. At times I stayed there for longer than I needed to, just watching the small strip, hoping for the faintest show that would indicate a pregnancy, turning it all sorts of angles to glimpse at even a shadow of hope. When it was clear that there was no hope to be found in that small testing stick, I stashed it away, hiding it within the trash where it could not be found, and consoled myself that my period had not yet arrived and that another test tomorrow could give me the result I was looking for.

There were times where I felt as though I was forcing time to fast forward in the hope that I could put myself out of the misery of waiting each month for the last day of my cycle to arrive. and desperately hoping that I wouldn’t need to restart the process yet again next month. Tell me, what woman in her late thirties wishes time away so fast, except a woman desperately trying to get pregnant, like me? Anyone would think I wanted to turn forty tomorrow!

To be honest, if it means I am forty and pregnant, I’ll take it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

chapter nine

letting myself go

 

 

Some women are lucky enough to fall pregnant very quickly after starting their conception journey, for others it can take several months. For me, it was taking much, much longer. When the anniversary of our first cycle of trying to conceive arrived, I decided that it was time to let myself off the hook. I knew very well that I had begun to take this quest far too seriously, and that every decision I was making about my lifestyle, food choices, and social habits orbited around my monthly cycle. I was too afraid to do something different or wrong, for fear that I would miss my opportunity to get pregnant, but in doing so I had stopped living my life. I was merely a sitting duck, stuck in the waiting lounge and just watching as life passed me by. At the end of each month, the plane had left without me, and I was still sitting there waiting, just hoping to catch the next one.

Was it ever going to happen for me? That question had begun to circle around in my head over and over. As a couple, of course we had undergone the preliminary tests and there was nothing medically that seemed to be stopping us from getting pregnant. Doctors and specialists just kept blaming my age. Egg quality, they said, and unless I was prepared to start a round of IVF, we were simply leaving ourselves open to lady luck.

As a couple we had discussed options for medical assistance and IVF, but it still felt so premature, and we were only a year in when we looked at our own position. We had decided quickly that we weren’t ready just yet to give up on the natural approach.

Nonetheless, I decided that it was time to take charge of myself and regain my life, to give myself some flexibility and freedom and rid myself of the frustration and anxiety that had definitely started to overwhelm me. Of course we were still continuing to try for a baby, and this wasn’t about taking a break from it all, it was simply about giving us both some rewards along the way, or even treating ourselves as the couple we used to be before this obsession with getting pregnant took over our lives.

A romantic dinner out with some champagne was first on the cards, yes ladies I had alcohol mid-cycle. My doctor had assured me that everything was okay within moderation, and even started encouraging me to let go and live. We had been good for so long and it hadn’t made any difference. So, we enjoyed our little bit of freedom. Also, as a special gift to me, an expensive handbag that I had been eyeing off for months now and a social ladies day out with afternoon tea and a cocktail. More alcohol you say? Oh yes!

None of this was going to get me pregnant, I was well aware of that. What it did do was relax me, let me enjoy myself and allow me to just let go. As a couple we even scheduled a cosy, romantic weekend away, timed of course with my ovulation dates. Why not? We could enjoy spending time with each other, indulging in a three course meal and the atmosphere of a rustic hotel room, with a little fun, and hopefully good luck.

This was important for us as a couple. All of a sudden everything had become so robotic and timed, and now I wanted to throw all that out the window. I knew my body like clockwork; I decided I didn’t need the ovulation tests or even the calendar application on my phone. All of it was deleted and thrown away for good. I knew now from twelve months of trying every single sign in my periodic cycle. I could tell when I was ovulating by the simple signs my body was expressing each month, and so it made sense to throw a little caution to the wind and allow us the freedom to be a less robotic, and more like the couple we were before all this started.

Well, did it work? Was this new plan to give us the success we hoped for? We would just have to wait and see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

chapter ten

everyone and everywhere

 

 

What is hard to fathom is that with every new month and as each year passed, my chances of becoming a mother were diminishing. It didn’t stop me from continuing to try, maintaining a constant hope that I would eventually catch that one good egg. Just the one, that’s all I needed.

By now, I’d tried all the tricks and techniques. Boring as it sounds, we only had sex in the missionary position when my ovulation dates hit, and then I sat there with my legs in the air for at least ten minutes, hoping his boys would find their way to my one good egg. Sounds attractive, doesn’t it?

We purchased a special lubricant that was supposed to help his boys on their journey, and I took a myriad of vitamins and even some disgusting green powdered health drink that was meant to improve my eggs. So how the hell was this still not working? What more could I be doing to get this right?

What felt even worse was that each and every month I read a new pregnancy announcement. Even more difficult was the birth announcements of those who had started trying around the same time we did. Each time I smiled, I wished them my happiest of congratulations, but inside I was gritting my teeth with thoughts screaming out, when will it be my turn?

Those with young children tried to offer their advice. Some told us to just keep trying and it will happen. My smile started to dim at such comments, and I felt like snapping back with a snide reply. Instead I held my tongue and graciously accepted their ground-breaking new advice.

Others suggested that we think about getting a dog. Of course, it’s that simple! A dog is what we have always wanted; so why the hell have we been trying for a baby all this time, when we could have gone to the nearest breeder and chosen a little four-legged fur monster? Silly us!

The worst of the comments however, were, consider yourself lucky, you can sleep when you want and do what you want. Enjoy your freedom while you still can. I’m bloody nearing forty and I’ve been doing that for years now. Why the hell would I put myself through the frustration and anxiety of the last twelve months just to stop now and ‘enjoy my freedom’. I want to be a Mum! There isn’t another option for me. Don’t tell me otherwise!

Of course, I appreciated that they were only trying to help, trying to give us some comfort. Unfortunately, however, it came across as misguided and insensitive. Whilst I wanted to snap and pout and walk away, the best thing I learned was to hold my tongue and let it wash over me. In the beginning such comments frustrated me, I’d get upset and dwell on their insensitivity, blaming them and myself for the fact that I was in this situation. Yet as I reflected and time passed, I had to consider whether there was anything that I could do to change things? I couldn’t magically make myself pregnant or reverse time. If I could, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation now.

It is what it is, that’s life, and yes it’s unfair, but unfortunately it is what I was dealt with. I could sulk and feel sorry for myself, or I could choose to keep moving forward, to keep hoping that soon (very soon) I would be rewarded for my persistence and my focus; that I will become a mother eventually. My day has yet to come! I am not ready to give up; I am going to keep fighting against these odds. There is something inside of me that tells me my time has yet to arrive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

chapter eleven

you just can’t plan these things

 

 

I had been so organised about my family planning, and in many respects I was somewhat naïve. I truly had no idea that I would find it so difficult to actually conceive and fall pregnant.

I have always been fit and healthy, I lead a good life with no terrible bad habits, and I’ve never really experienced any major health issues. Looking at my husband, I would say the same; we are both active and we certainly don’t indulge in the wrong foods or lifestyle habits. I guess it goes to show that nothing is guaranteed in life, and you cannot bank on Mother Nature.

The ironic thing is that we had been so careful not to fall pregnant before we officially started trying for a baby. As I look back now, I do regret our caution as potentially we may have missed our opportunity to become parents. We had always said that the timing was never right. But really, when is it right? Thinking about my current desperation to get pregnant and become a mum, I realised that if it had have happened years earlier, it really would have not made much difference to me. Naturally, I would still have loved and cherished that child, and I would have been a good mother, regardless of any other considerations that had stopped us from trying back then. The reality however is that we didn’t start trying until my late thirties. The past is in the past, and looking back solves nothing.

I remember my husband and I having a joke as we started trying to conceive, telling ourselves that in nine months our world would turn upside down. Now over twelve months later, our world has changed, we certainly have a different perspective on being parents, but we are not where we had planned to be.

Over the past twelve months I also started basing my decisions around my expectation to get pregnant. I had fully expected to be winding down for a period of time, and so I started to think about how this would affect my work and my career options. Recently I found myself opting out of new opportunities, and only accepting only shorter term projects, with the hope that I would be taking a period of absence after several months and focusing on being a mother. That backfired very quickly on me! I started to get frustrated as I watched my colleagues move ahead of me, putting their hands up for promotions and openings, whilst I cautiously sat back, assuming that I didn’t want to let anyone down if I had to suddenly announce I was pregnant. Yet I wasn’t pregnant, I wasn’t getting pregnant, and it was like I had pressed the pause button on my life and my prospects for something that hadn’t yet happened, and with no assurance that it would happen in the near future.

I hadn’t told my workplace of our plans to have children, and often I would get the curious question from my manager or colleagues as to why I hadn’t pursued opportunities that had been presented to me. I could only assume that they might guess. On the other hand, I wondered if they felt I was not engaged in the company or my career. To my detriment the internal offers started to dissipate, and I felt I was being branded as someone who was not ambitious or engaged in my own development.

I realise now that I had approached it all wrong, that I should have kept my focus and my options open. I love my job, my company and my career. My intention was always to return to work after my maternity leave, and I had already thought out how we would balance childcare with being parents. So why did I assume I had to stop now, pre-empting the inevitable? In hindsight I thought I was doing the right thing by the company, but in reality I was doing the wrong thing by myself.

Essentially, I was exacerbating my own frustrations and anxiety about my failure to conceive by also restricting myself in my professional life. I found myself dwelling over my decisions for the past twelve months or so, and wondering how I could reinvent my career image with my colleagues and management. Then there was also another quandary. If I did go to all that effort now and then fell pregnant, what would they think of me? Would I be damaging my professional reputation even further?

Either way I needed to escape this holding pattern I was sitting in. I had to get myself back to who I was before I started this conception journey, if only for my sanity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

chapter twelve

what if?

 

 

What if I never fall pregnant? What if I never get the chance to be a mother? These two questions circled through my mind every now and again, and I quickly brushed them aside as nonsense, yet it was a growing reality that I needed to consider. Perhaps this would never happen for me?

So how do women actually reconcile with this conclusion I wonder? Growing up I had always believed that I would one day get married and have children. That was the one certainty in my life ambitions. Whilst it didn’t happen as early as I had hoped, I finally did meet the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, and when the time was right we planned to start our family. What if I only got half of my dream? Could I be happy with that?

I looked around me, and it felt as though everyone had their family dream, and I was just trying to catch up. What would happen to those friendships if we don’t finally get the baby we hope for? Would we slowly drift apart, find new friends without kids, or find another dream? It was all so very difficult to even comprehend. I had never even considered my future without children, yet perhaps I needed to be preparing myself.

Friends who have their families often made jest of the situation – rightly or wrongly – telling us that we could be the double income no kids couple that everyone is jealous of. Did they realise that I was incredibly envious of their situation and I would trade them any day? It certainly didn’t ease my mind that we would have this frivolous and carefree lifestyle, if I wanted that in the first place I wouldn’t be spending every month scrutinising my ovulation dates.

Even with these questions whirring around in my head, I knew that I was not ready to answer them just yet. I was not ready to give up on our dream of becoming parents, of hoping that we would still fall pregnant. There was still determination and fight left in me, and I was prepared to keep going a little further, and wait a little longer if it meant that eventually we would get there. I needed to be sure that I had explored every avenue before I quit this game.

If and when I have to walk away, it will be important that I am satisfied that I tried my ultimate best, that I gave it everything I could, and that I left no stone unturned. If motherhood is not meant to be for me, I will eventually have to accept it. I don’t really have a choice not to. I just hope that if I am forced to make that choice, that I will have the support of my friends and family to pursue another dream, whatever that may be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

chapter thirteen

betting on odds

 

 

When women tell me that they stopped trying and then found out that they were pregnant, I have to wonder if I really could just stop and let nature takes its course either way. Knowing my luck, nothing would actually happen. Even so, I just couldn’t see myself experimenting with this. I know myself too well, and regardless, I would still be thinking about it, so really my mind would not be ‘switched off’ this whole baby making process.

As we reached the almost two year mark of our conception journey, I was starting to feel that what we were doing was perhaps becoming a little fruitless; that it was maybe time for us to consult with an IVF specialist, and at least understand our options. However, even with the support of IVF there were no absolute guarantees, and when I did my research the odds were still not wholly in our favour. Many women my age group have had to endure numerous cycles of treatment before achieving a successful pregnancy. Could I put my body through the extra stress of treatment, on top of what it was already under now?

The other consideration was the expense of IVF. We could of course get the money, for years we had been saving our funds for my maternity leave, to help equip our nursery, and perhaps even childcare in the early years. Starting IVF would mean dipping into that pot. Naturally, we agreed it would be worth it to sacrifice our savings should we have a successful pregnancy. However, what if it meant multiple treatments, and how much money do you spend before you give up, and finally walk away. Again, like the illustrious gambler, I could easily keep betting on that next round being the one, but there were no guarantees of that happening. What if we did walk away empty-handed? Could we get through that, as a couple?

Nevertheless, my husband and I agreed that we would give it a few more months of trying, reach our two-year mark, and then we would set up an initial consultation to find out more. It was worth finding out more and knowing our absolute options.

As a couple we had booked a short break away just before that two-year mark. It was an extended weekend of sightseeing and indulgence. I truly enjoyed spending time with my husband on these trips, and each time it rekindled our love for each other. In the back of my head however, I kept thinking that my period was due in less than a week. I was generally careful with what I ate or drank, subconsciously still hoping that this could be our month. Although my hope was starting to dwindle, it never truly disappeared. After a delicious dinner out and a walk through the moonlit city we were happy to retire back to our little hotel. Still in my mind, I was wondering if that pang in my stomach was something more than just my food digesting.

Overnight however, it was more than that. I was violently ill from around two in the morning, and quite clearly reacting to whatever I had eaten in that quaint little restaurant the prior evening. By morning I could barely move, let alone stomach the long car journey home. My poor husband became my nursemaid as over the following days I slowly healed and my stomach cramps subsided. Whilst I had hoped I would be pregnant that month, my heart and mind knew that by now there would be no chance. Giving my mind the ease, I took a pregnancy test the day before my period was due, and it confirmed my assumption; a negative result and again this would not be our month.

A few days later, I started to feel a little better, just fragile. My thoughts had stopped circling around what if I am pregnant, and focused purely on getting back to normal. However, my period had not yet arrived. What if? The thought suddenly re-entered my psyche and a glimmer of hope resumed.

Pulling out another test, I decided to give it a shot. My system had been thrown around for the past week, I knew that it was likely I was just late in my cycle as a result. However, a stirring thought was nagging at me, and my heart pounded slightly as I waited for the little test stick to process its result.

I will never forget that first moment, as I watched that second line appear in front of my eyes. I stared at the little stick in shock as the line gradually became darker, reassuring me that I wasn’t seeing things! I could only sit there, stunned, my pants to my ankles, as I watched the little test in disbelief. I couldn’t be, could I? My body had been wracked with cramps and pain, I had been severely sick, barely eaten for days, and yet, I was pregnant! I could say it at last; I was pregnant!

I think my husband must have thought I had fallen, or seen a spider or something as I screamed frantically for him to come upstairs.

The bathroom door flew open with my husband looking for whatever it was that was causing such hysterics. I couldn’t say anything except hold up the small testing stick, waving it in front of his face. I watched as his eyes searched for what I was so hyped up about, as he tried to register what was happening. Slowly, I could see the realisation dawn on him, as he understood what I was showing him.

“Really?” He looked at me, unsure of whether this was in fact happening. I could only nod, tears running down my face. We hugged, I was still gripping that small test stick; the one thing that had been worth this entire wait, time, frustration, anxiety, everything! I wanted to hold onto that moment forever.

We were pregnant at long last!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

chapter fourteen

the next chapter

 

 

So, we are finally pregnant! At last we have cleared that first hurdle, despite my age and all of the obstacles that lay in front of us. Nonetheless, I am now well aware that we are about to face a whole set of new anxieties and risks as we start these early weeks of our pregnancy.

Whilst it had felt like a lifetime of trying to conceive, I am appreciative and lucky to have reached this far, and to have fallen pregnant naturally. Many women have not reached this milestone, and so I’m truly grateful that I have been given this opportunity and I certainly will not be taking this pregnancy for granted.

However, I am now thirty-nine and all the research I have read tells me that one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage; that the odds of pregnancy loss or even problems with the pregnancy have a higher risk in the years leading to forty.

Of course I was, and still am, incredibly excited about finally being pregnant. At times I feel as though I can’t contain that excitement, especially when I am around friends or family who don’t yet know our news. Nonetheless, a new fear is now coming over me very quickly; what if this excitement is only short-lived? How would I cope if it was all taken away from me?

But that is a whole new chapter and a different story altogether: my next chapter, pregnant and heading to forty! For now, I will just revel in the fact that I am pregnant and that I have reached this key milestone that I have been dreaming of for so long!

I have learned a lot about myself and my determination on this path to conception. Some of it I might do differently, but regardless, it has got me to this place today. I never gave up on my hope to get pregnant, and finally my determination has been rewarded. Whatever comes next, I know I can face it with the same passion, and I can only hope that in nine months’ time I will be finally holding the baby I dreamed of.

I will certainly not take this pregnancy for granted. I am happy!

 

 

 

 

 

a FINAL NOTE from the author

 

Sometimes we don’t talk openly about our struggles, particularly when it comes to fertility and a subject so sensitive as our ability to procreate.

Writing my journal was my outlet, and my decision to publish my feelings, thoughts and experiences was deliberate. Whilst this was a very personal journey, it is one that I have discovered that many women experience, and sadly they do so alone.

I hope that by reading my story and sometimes my range of reactions and feelings, it will help and support you and your loved ones.

Thank you for letting me share this with you.

Jess James

I would be grateful of any reviews posted on Amazon and Goodreads, as feedback is important to authors.


The Path to Conception

I always dreamed of becoming a mother, and I had my life planned out... lifestyle, husband, house and children. Getting pregnant wasn't meant to be this difficult. I was wrong! As a woman who lived a healthy lifestyle I had never expected to face the challenges I did in trying to conceive... but my age was playing against me and time was quickly running out. This is my personal journey of trying to conceive in what they called my 'advanced maternal years' over the age of thirty five. My age is working against me and time is now my biggest enemy.

  • ISBN: 9781310021565
  • Author: Jess James
  • Published: 2016-07-07 11:42:48
  • Words: 9900
The Path to Conception The Path to Conception