May this letter provide you with hope and guidance from someone who's shared your struggle. Nearly 5 years ago my "baby marathon” commenced, but we got there in the end and I’m now a mummy to my beautiful twin boys. After two years of trying for a baby, I was referred for tests, revealing that my ovarian reserve was low (5 follicles) and my FSH/AMH levels were bad, around 14 and 3 respectively. I was devastated, especially as I'd spent 15 years trying to avoid pregnancy, however was keen to crack on immediately with IVF through the NHS.
Despite having the maximum drug dosage, I only produced 1 egg, which fertilised, but didn't implant. When I saw the negative results, I sobbed for days. We tried a second time, however the two extracted eggs didn't fertilise.
After the failed attempts, I was told by my consultant that I'd never have a baby with my own eggs and was "flogging a dead horse". However, I didn't give up and found a specialist clinic. Please accept this advice from me, as a friend who understands.
Depending on your circumstances, think about a donor (egg and/or sperm), surrogacy, adoption. Do your research and speak to specialists. The clinic I used offers natural modified IVF, which means fewer drugs and working with your natural cycle. There'll be times when you'll feel very alone, but please don't suffer in silence.
Your nearest and dearest will be there for you and you should let off steam before you implode, as I can tell you it ain't pretty! Friends will continue to get pregnant. Despite being happy for them, your pain is understandable, so don't feel guilty.
Don't compare yourself to others. "But they only got married 6 months ago." "But they're overweight". "But they're underweight." "But she didn't even want kids". Sound familiar? This is your journey, no one else's.
Be prepared to wear a metaphorical teflon coat, as you'll no doubt receive well-meaning but unknowingly insensitive comments throughout your struggle. If one more person asked why I wasn’t pregnant I could have screamed. Yet each time I responded with an ambiguous "hopefully one day".
Be kind to yourself. I adopted extreme “clean living” including no sugar, to the extent I convinced myself that one glass of wine would incinerate my remaining puny eggs (ironically, after such saintly behaviour, I conceived weeks after an impromptu Prosecco fuelled night) – the pressure I put on myself probably counteracted the benefits.
I swear by acupuncture and reflexology. Together with healthy living, these improve your body’s balance, improve blood flow and give you time just to relax.
Self preservation is key. The day after I got my first negative IVF result, I bailed on my friend's baby shower as I could no longer pretend I was ok. Your friends will understand. Let yourself grieve. And counselling may help to put everything in perspective.
So, ladies. Be positive, patient, persistent and, most importantly, please don't give up.