Even typing this makes me feel slightly sick, and I feel nervous writing about it, not because I am ashamed, but because of how personal it is, and it is something not everyone is aware of in my circle of friends and family.
When I was a child, my favourite toy was my doll. I’d spend hours sitting there, holding her, rocking her to sleep. I had every accessory available, a beautiful pram I would push around with pride, bottles where the liquid ‘magically disappeared’ and a cot, which I would put her to sleep in every night, praying she wouldn’t cry in the night.
I never imagined that becoming a biological mum would be so difficult. I never imagined the trying, the heartache, the tears that roll down your cheek every time you see a negative test. The pain of another hospital appointment, another doctor telling you ‘it will happen’, ‘just give it time’. The friends and family that say ‘you’re next’ or ‘when are you having a baby?’ at every gathering.
Our journey began just under three years ago, when I was 22. We had got engaged in the October, and by the end of November had put everything in place to start trying.
Although my grandma would have been disappointed at the thought of me having a child before I marry (she’s nearly 99 and old school!), since meeting Lily, it was my dream to marry with both my step child and biological child hand in hand, with my surname changing to complete that family unit.
After six months of trying and no luck, I made an appointment along with Chris to go to the doctors to see if there was anything they could do. Usually, medical professionals say to wait for a year before getting help, but at the age of 17 I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and knew I may have issues conceiving, so I wanted to get the help as soon as I possibly could.
I remember sitting there, grasping Chris’s hand as the female doctor all but laughed at me, not taking me seriously. After discussions, she agreed to refer me to the hospital for further tests but I knew she thought it was silly. At one point, we heard a baby cry in another room, she turned to me and said ‘are you sure you even want one of those?’ It took all the strength I had to not cry there and then. I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of that.
Three months later and my first appointment came around, and I had so many hopes. I’d researched. I knew what I needed to say, I knew the medication I needed to help and where I needed to be. I had it mapped in my head, I had Chris by my side and nothing could go wrong because I was going to get help.
And then it all felt like everything came crashing down on me.
More tests, more waiting. And the appointments that followed all felt the same, the build up of results and anticipation, only for more tests to be requested. More agony to endure, all to hold a baby in my arms, to see it look up to me and Chris and to feel that endless love parents talk about when they see their child for the first time.
The worst and most painful test I had was something called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), a procedure that uses an x-ray to look at your fallopian tubes and uterus. I had to lay there during the procedure, while ink was injected into my uterus, and I can say I have never felt pain like it – I even admit I swore at the doctor (I did apologise straight away and thankfully she understood!). Chris had to sit outside and wait for me, as with most tests I had.
It’s so hard being away from Chris at these times. You feel so alone and scared, not knowing what the outcome will be.
And do you know what the hardest thing during this entire process has been so far? The feeling of disappointment. Yes, I am disappointed in myself that I haven’t been able to complete our family yet, but the biggest feeling I have is that I have let down Chris and Lily. My body has been so far unable to create and bring a child into the world, to create a brother or sister for Lily.
We have a lot of children in our family, friends have children, I have five beautiful nieces and nephews, and my best friend has twins, who I was lucky enough to be there at their birth. And I see Chris and Lily with each of them, I look at how amazing Chris is and all I can ever think is how amazing it will be to see him be a dad.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, he is already a dad. And an amazing dad at that. I’ve watched him as Lily has grown and that has only wanted me to have my own more. I met Lily when she was two, and watching Chris be this incredible father for five years has been perfect. All I want is to experience that from the beginning.
To see him kiss my bump goodnight. To see his eyes widen as our baby kicks for the first time. Listening to their heartbeat. Letting Lily announce whether she’s having a brother or sister (she hopes sister – apparently I’m not allowed to make a boy if I have a baby!). Watching him hold our baby for the first time and experiencing all those little moments I have been dreaming of for as long as I can remember.
Three years in and I don’t feel any closer to that. And I try to not get myself feeling so down about it, but I do, and if affects all of us. Chris is so easy going, I know he thinks about it but wouldn’t want to show me that, he wouldn’t want to add that pressure, as I do that all by myself.
So why am I posting about this in a step mum blog? This is all about being a step mum right? My biological children, if I am to have any, has nothing to do with that does it?
Of course it does.
At times I feel so torn, Lily is the most amazing, beautiful little girl, and I am so grateful to have her in my life. She completes a part of me I never knew existed. She ignites that maternal instinct and shows me what life is like to have a child. But it also reminds me of what I may never have physically. I long for that pregnancy, that going into labour, the special moment with Chris when we meet our baby for the first time, seeing Lily when she first meets the baby – and what if I can’t give our family that?
It breaks my heart to write this, to let it all out, but it has needed to be said – and that confidence was given to me by a lovely group of women I spoke to recently, who shared their similar stories – who showed how brave they were facing infertility – and how it needs to be talked about to show that if you are struggling, you’re not alone.
Writing all this down won’t make a baby, it won’t fix whatever is wrong with my womb, but hopefully, it will help someone else feeling this way. Infertility is more common than you think, and it takes just one person to share their story to know you’re not alone in it.