Karen and her partner had fertility treatment for almost three years before conceiving naturally. Here’s her story.
I knew I was ready for a family when the sound of babies crying didn't bother me as much!
My partner and I started trying for a family when we were in our mid-thirties. We tried for two years unsuccessfully before having some fertility tests, all of which came back clear. My doctor initially started me on Clomid but we had to end the cycle after I overstimulated. We were advised to stop having sex at that point as the risk of a multiple birth would have been too high. The next stage was the good old turkey baster (IUI). Again that didn’t work and the doctor couldn’t understand why as we had good egg production, regular periods and high quality sperm. Often it felt a lot like trial and error – let’s give this a go and see what happens. It’s certainly not the exact science some people think it is!
We managed to get two cycles of IVF on the NHS, sadly neither of which were successful. After the first embryo transfer I remember the nurse telling me I had a count of ‘50’ and not having a clue what that meant but thinking it sounded pretty good. It was only in a subsequent cycle that I realised it actually wasn’t very good at all.
I didn’t take up the offer of fertility counselling but if I was advising someone today I’d definitely say to take whatever’s offered to you. Just having someone to talk to and explain what’s happening to your body and mind is incredibly helpful. My family, when I told them I was having fertility treatment, were wonderful but I think the whole concept was slightly outside their understanding. For a lot of people having kids is something that ‘just happens’ and if people aren’t having them there’s a perception that it’s because they don’t want to: fertility is still a taboo subject.
Thankfully I was never made to feel like an ‘older mum’
Once we’d exhausted our NHS funded treatment we decided to go private. By this stage I was 39, but thankfully I was never made to feel like an ‘older mum’. Of course people were honest about our chances but I never felt like this was something I shouldn’t be doing. We got pregnant on the second cycle but sadly the embryo died in the sixth week and had to be induced.
At this point we decided not to try again as clearly it wasn’t happening. I do understand why some people keep trying for as long as possible, but for me this was never about just having a baby; it was about having a family. I was ready to consider other options like adoption.
Later that year we moved homes to give ourselves a fresh start. A couple of weeks after we’d moved in I met up with a friend who was expecting and I suddenly thought, ‘Oh, have I had my period?’ On the day we were due to visit the fertility consultant to consider our next options, I did a pregnancy test and it was confirmed – I was pregnant!
It was like my body had clocked on to what was going on
I look back now and it was almost like my body had suddenly thought ‘Ah, now I understand what to do!’ It sounds like such a cliché and so many people said “New house, new baby”, but I do wonder if maybe the fact that we weren’t thinking about it made a difference.
I feel very lucky to have my gorgeous son, a new partner and two stepchildren – we’re a proper little family now. I have friends who are going through similar problems and I’ve said to them, you can read everything there is to read and get all the advice (and I recommend you do ask!), but your body and your fertility journey is as individual as you are. It will take time so try to be open to whatever happens - and most importantly, be very, very kind to yourself.
Review date: 18 January 2020