Today I would like to introduce you to India who is going to be sharing her pregnancy journey with you all over the coming months. When India contacted us a little while back about sharing her pregnancy diary we found out she had actually been at University with our lovely Fern. Small world and all that. Anyway, I hope you will say a big hello to India and we look forward to sharing the rest of her pregnancy with you over the coming months.
It’s funny, isn’t it, how as women we seem to spend a lot of our lives being told to be scared of getting pregnant, having the risks of missing just one pill drilled into us, and nervously waiting for our period to arrive. For the majority of us the only time we really start to think about the actual detail of the baby making process isn’t until we have been trying to avoid pregnancy for quite some time. Then all of a sudden we realise the monthly chances of conceiving are less than 30%, assuming everything is hunky dory and healthy.
There wasn’t ever really a question of whether we wanted to have a baby, it was always on the cards for us, but the timing was of much debate in our house. Despite us having been together almost 13 years this June (we got together young!) I had a bit of a set list of things I wanted to have in place before we started to think about trying. These were mainly boring things like earning a certain amount, being on a permanent contract etc. Also at the back of my mind lurked the fear that we may not be amongst the lucky ones. I was very aware that it could take a year or more of trying and that’s if you’re amongst the lucky ones who can conceive naturally.
I would say the year before I came off the pill the uncertainty was almost unbearable and started affecting our life choices. We were starting to look at moving house but felt stuck and paralysed by the not knowing of whether a baby would be on the cards for us, how long it might take, and what might happen in between.
In the end I felt like my practical reasons for not starting to try for a baby were becoming fewer and fewer – my contract at work was made open ended, and then I got promoted to a higher grade with a better salary and more holiday. It sounds clinical but I realised that this would be a really good point to take maternity leave, and that if we waited too much longer I might be in a new job and then have to wait a year to be eligible for maternity pay. I felt like I had to start thinking seriously about every life choice before even coming off the pill. The final frontier was the travelling I definitely wanted to do before having a baby. My husband agreed to us moving our trip to Australia forward by a year, and all of a sudden we had a date set for starting to try to conceive a little baby of our own.
Now I will say that there were definitely catalysts for this decision along the way. When we got married in 2015, there was only one baby at the wedding, mainly because very few of our friends had children. In the year that followed the babies arrived in their droves around us. As we watched our friends battle with the challenge of parenthood we looked at them and thought ‘we want that’. I realised that there is never a perfect time, career wise, to have a baby, and that sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and hope for the best. I started to feel something I hadn’t felt before, and calling it ‘broody’ doesn’t seem to do it justice. It was almost like an awakening of a longing that I had sort of always known was there and now there was no denying it.
On one particular August weekend, we spent time with friends and their various five kids in tow, ranging from 1 week to 9 years old. In the park, whilst I was holding a two year old’s hand and my husband was carrying along a one year old on his hip, I said to him ‘shall I just throw away the pill prescription I’ve got in my bag?’. He looked at me, shocked and said, ‘What? Really, are you serious?’ The joy on his face was pretty clear, and I realised he may have been hiding just how much this was something he wanted, most probably to respect and protect me.
And so it was decided. Ok so we did have to chat things through a little bit more, as we had a trip to Australia booked in two months’ time that I didn’t really want to be vomming my guts up during, but we decided that I would look into how best to prepare myself for stopping the pill after over 12 years of being on it with very few small gaps. I researched and popped into Holland and Barrett to get myself some vitamin B complex, to help regulate my hormones, alongside a probiotic to help with my gut health which is pretty bad as I have IBS. I was scared of what would happen to my body, and to my skin as I was on Yasmin to help with acne I had suffered with previously. Popping those pills every day as I prepared to come off the actual contraceptive pill gave me a focus, and helped me to feel like I was doing everything I could to prepare myself.
I am a pretty compulsive planner, and the idea that this monumental thing in our life would be so out of my hands meant I tried to control everything that I possibly could. I even bought some conception pregnacare tablets (which I never actually took, they are still in the drawer), and tried to talk my husband into taking some supplements, to which he responded ‘let’s see how we get on, if it doesn’t work I will take anything you want me to take and eat any kind of ridiculous diet, but let’s just give it a go first’. So sensible, so grounded, so opposite to me with my bottles of pills piling up on the sideboard.
Then came the time for actually trying. Aka all the horrible names (like baby making and doing the deed) that it is called on the forums, which I will no doubt end up using here as I don’t want to bang on (excuse the pun) about sex for the whole time. I won’t go into much detail about the actual hardcore conception part because I think my husband would absolutely kill me if I gave intimate details of our private life out online, but the first time we had sex after I came off the pill there were definitely nerves in the room. It just felt so strange to shift from 12 years of actively trying NOT to get pregnant, to wanting it so much. I didn’t want to become obsessive but it’s hard, so I decided to prepare myself and bought a set of ovulation tests and a basal thermometer, ready to track things if necessary. I promised myself I wouldn’t do anything with them for six months, and bought a two pack of pregnancy tests as well, just in case. With this arsenal of products in the bathroom cabinet I felt like we were as prepared as possible, yet still totally unprepared as we still just didn’t know what was in store for us and if it would ever happen for us.
Thankfully because of our impending Australia trip, we kind of viewed the first month I was off the pill as a ‘settling down’ month. This was all very well but when my period still hadn’t arrived after 30 days off the pill I thought we had hit the jackpot. One negative pregnancy test later and I realised just how much I wanted this, and my fears that it might not all be as easy as we had hoped started to skyrocket. I know that seems silly, to overreact so much after just one month of ‘trying’, but I think it opened my eyes to what a rollercoaster trying for a baby is. We only had a small taste of it, but I suddenly realised just how hard it is to spend each month watching and waiting, symptom spotting at every little thing, only for it all to turn to nothing at the end of it. I can only imagine how much harder this gets the longer the trying goes on for, and my heart goes out to everyone who goes through this pain month after month.
In that first month it actually turned out that my cycle was just settling down to its usual length, which ended up being 35 days. Cue me googling whether this made it less likely for me to conceive, and obsessively scouring forums for whether the length of cycle had an impact on the healthiness of the egg. It’s like entering a whole new world, with dedicated acronyms, new terminology and I did find myself falling into the trap of reading the TTC forums late into the night. I know they can be a great source of comfort and support, but for me I think they heightened every fear and worry I had, and were probably best avoided.
Once we were back from our Australia trip we managed to stay pretty laid back about things. The ovulation sticks stayed firmly in the drawer but I started to look more closely at my cervical mucus. I figured this was an easy (albeit pretty icky) way to keep an eye on things, and I just sort of thought I would pay more attention for this month and see how we got on. I know that some people will cringe at me mentioning this, but I wish it got more airtime on standard places, it seems that lots of people use this as a last resort. Turns out this must be pretty effective, or I just got lucky, as this was the month we hit the jackpot. I think the best thing about paying attention to this is that it’s free, it’s natural, for most people it’s easy to do, and once you know what you’re looking for it gives you a really clear sign of when you might be ovulating. I won’t go into the detail of how it works here, but a simple google will give you all the info you need.
Our Australia trip made me realise that the key to getting through this process of trying was to try my best to relax and focus on other things. It might sound silly but giving myself other things to look forward to was a real help in taking my mind off the big old elephant in the room.
That same month after we got home I had the weirdest cramping. I’ve never felt anything like it before but I didn’t want to read too much into it. So I continued to act normal, as I just couldn’t face months of two week waits where I tried to act pregnant, only to find out I wasn’t.
My period was due on the Friday, and I didn’t test until the Sunday morning as I was so determined that the test in my drawer wouldn’t be used until it gave a positive result. Sure enough at 6am on the Sunday morning, I didn’t have to wait the full two minutes for the second line to appear on the test, it literally filled the window immediately. I was so, so happy, as was my husband when he woke up and found the test on the side of the bath whilst I was feeding the cats!
I couldn’t believe it was happening, I was so so sure that we would be the ones taking at least a year to conceive if we were that lucky at all. Then as soon as I had found out, the doubts started to creep in – what if everything isn’t ok, what if it’s a molar pregnancy or an ectopic pregnancy? Maybe I’m just a negative person, but all of a sudden the stakes just seemed so high, and my power to do anything about it was lower than ever. And so into the first trimester I skipped, feeling happy, scared, but oh so hopeful that in under nine months I would be meeting our little one.