Infertility, A Mum’s Perspective

Infertility from a Mum and Therapist

Written by – Sarah – Paul’s Wife, A Therapist

Content Warning – you may find some of the content in this blog difficult or triggering. Please read with care. 

We Did Everything We Could to Prepare

My husband, Paul, and I are total Type A’s. When it came to planning to start trying for a baby, we did everything we could to prepare well. We were going to do this right. We began nesting – we decorated the house, built a garden office to free up space in the house ready for the nursery, we began exercising regularly, started our prenatal vitamins, read book after book on preparing for baby and planning what kind of parenting style we would adopt. 

And so, we excitedly started trying.

……And nothing happened. Month after month went by, and nothing happened. There were no two little pink lines on the test, just a resolutely single line.


I was perplexed. We were doing everything right, why wasn’t it happening?

And then it did happen. We were getting our Christmas decorations down from the loft and I started to feel a bit strange.  I had to lie down on the carpet with my legs propped up on the sofa, thinking about how surely this wasn’t normal. I took a test and sure enough there it was, two little lines. We were absolutely beside ourselves, excitedly planning to wait until Christmas Day to tell our families that there would be a new addition joining us next year.


It lasted a little over two weeks before the bleeding started.

The GP booked us a scan at the hospital for two days time (what good was that? It was days away.) I was frantic. Maybe this was normal, maybe it could be something other than what I feared it was. I googled and googled for stories where something similar had worked out okay. But then there was no mistaking it, I went to the toilet on the Sunday morning before the scan, and there it was. I had miscarried our baby.


We went to the scan anyway even though we both knew there was no point, my uterus was empty. 

There was nothing to see. My mind replayed again and again the moment when I saw the tiny bit of tissue that was our baby. Would have been our baby. Should have been our baby. (Subsequently I became quite haunted by this moment, and fortunately for me I just so happened to be married to an EMDR therapist who worked some EMDR wizardry which really helped me to process the trauma of the miscarriage and heal. I can’t recommend EMDR therapy enough if you are struggling with trauma. If you’re considering trying it, I would wholeheartedly encourage you to do it.)

The nurses were kind and reassuring, and said something about how it was nature’s way and there was likely something genetically wrong with the embryo for the pregnancy to have ended so soon. We drove back home in silence. What was there to say? Paul squeezed my hand and said that we would come back to the hospital one day soon under better circumstances. That our time would come. I couldn’t even look at him. I wanted this baby now, not down the line.

I read a poem around this time by Sierra DeMulder which struck a chord with me, and I hope perhaps it will with you. Here is a particular line which I felt in my soul. 

Just the dream of one as if that is somehow easier to bury. Unheld, unnamed,

Just the foolish hope of you, and the audacity 

of my joy spilling everywhere like that

We told trusted family, friends and colleagues what had happened and most of the comments were the same, if I’d got pregnant once, I could get pregnant again. It was just a matter of time.


The following month we decided to try again. My body had physically recovered, even if my heart and mind hadn’t. I still grieved the loss of our baby and the loss of everything that should have been. 

And yet, nothing. Months passed by. Nothing, nothing, nothing.

What the actual heck? I was more confused than ever. Clearly, I was missing something. We weren’t doing something right, there must be something I needed to do differently. Interestingly I felt the responsibility was mine, and almost mine alone from the start. 


I blamed myself for our inability to get pregnant, and I felt like I was letting my husband down for not being able to conceive and carry our child. 

For a time, I thought he would be better off with someone else, someone who could get pregnant easily. 

I felt like I was failing as a wife and as a woman. 

Our bodies are designed to have babies and mine wasn’t working. I saw myself as faulty, as broken. Paul, for his part, never once said anything of the sort and was nothing but supportive, however, it didn’t take these thoughts and feelings away.


And so, we entered the world of infertility. 

This is a very strange, surreal world to be part of online. It becomes the norm to look at other women’s photographs of ovulation and pregnancy tests (line eyes, anyone?), photos of their cervical mucus (yes, seriously. I’m telling you; I’ve seen things I’ll never un-see), photos of women’s legs in the air post-coitus. Honestly, anything goes. I became fluent in the language of this new world – EWM (egg white mucus), DTD (doing the deed), DPO (days post ovulation).

Having googled in serious depth about the symptoms I was having, I became convinced that I had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. I went to the GP and told them my thoughts, they agreed. They sent me for tests that were then pronounced clear. Not PCOS. 


I didn’t believe the results.  

I knew that was it even though I couldn’t explain why they’d come back apparently clear. We got told to simply carry on trying.


I don’t think anyone can understand the pain and emotional turmoil that comes with trying for a baby and getting negative test after negative test. 

The hope in the run-up to Test Day. The googling every symptom. The hyperawareness of any slight change in your body – sore nipples? Implantation cramping? Headache? Nausea? The holding of breath while taking the test, hoping against hope that this time would be The Time. And then staring at the test in your hand, taking in the single control line and holding up the test to the window, to the light, squinting your eyes to see if there is the slightest shadow of a second line. Putting it sadly in the bin, then coming back to it and taking it back out just to check again because maybe, maybe it just needed more time to develop.

As a typical high achiever my entire life, my personal mantra revolved around the idea that if at first you don’t succeed, try harder.

And so I did. 

I joined forums, I changed my diet – I slashed all sugar, anything processed, caffeine, alcohol, fast-release carbs and dairy. I ate a high-protein diet with literally tonnes of vegetables (but no fruit, because, you know, sugar). I drank only water and spearmint tea to regulate my blood sugar, supplemented only by raspberry leaf tea for the first half of my cycle because maybe it helped the womb lining develop. I read that bone broth could help with conceiving because it was full of healthy vitamins and minerals. I drank it every day. I bought my vegetarian husband, his own veggie version (just in case!)

I began to take so many supplements I might as well have rattled when I walked. I replaced all plastic containers with glass (because, you know, BPA). All my beauty products were replaced with pthalate and paraben-free versions (easier said than done frankly and hecking expensive). Perfume, hair dye and nail varnish were a thing of the past, far too many chemicals.

I did PCOS-specific workouts. I began to practice fertility mindfulness meditations twice a day. Affirmations went up around our room ‘my body is healthy and ready to conceive and carry a baby.’ I started reflexology on a weekly basis. I began seed cycling (maybe the minerals in the different seeds will help my body with what it needs in the first and then second half of the cycle). 

I started Chinese herbs and acupuncture (actually one of the few things that I believe truly helped). Eastern medicine is very different from Western medicine and is absolutely fascinating to learn about. It might not be for everyone, however, my experience was very positive and I was interested to learn about a different perspective on the problem. I was told that I had to keep my feet warm at all times, and never consume anything that wasn’t cooked and hot. During the heat wave in summer, I was the only one eating chicken casseroles and sipping herbal tea!

I became literally obsessed with getting pregnant. It was all I could think about, all I could talk about.

It began to affect our marriage. 

Sex with my husband had become nothing less than a chore. It was something we both HAD to do, whether we actually wanted to or not. It didn’t feel like we were connected anymore. This wasn’t love making, it was baby making and there’s a huge difference. There were nights when I would think that I literally couldn’t bring myself to do the deed. I was so tired, so over this. And yet I had to – because if you weren’t in it, so to speak, how could you win it? There’s only one way to make a baby after all. Our relationship was impacted, I wasn’t the person I used to be. I didn’t feel desirable, my libido plummeted. I felt so badly about myself and so incredibly down. My entire life revolved around getting pregnant to the extent that I began to avoid making plans and refused to commit to anything down the line because I might be pregnant by then.

I was fortunate that Paul is probably the most understanding and supportive husband I could have asked for. It cannot have been easy being married to me during this time in our lives, and yet he never complained, never criticised. He didn’t always know what to say, and sometimes just wouldn’t say anything at all. Sometimes he would just hold me while I cried, and actually that was enough.

One of the hardest parts was hearing about the pregnancy news of other couples. The sight of another woman’s scan photo on social media would send me into a tailspin that lasted a week.

I had to attend a baby shower of one of my closest friends.  A woman who had been a bridesmaid at my wedding, as I had been for hers. On the day my period had just started after it had been late for a week and I was convinced that this was it, it was delayed for a reason. I didn’t breathe a word to her about how hard I found it, even though I cried all the way up the motorway. My feelings weren’t her responsibility and she deserved to enjoy her happiness and excitement.

When a family member got pregnant on month one of trying after her husband had a vasectomy reversal, I cried for the best part of a week. 

When my oldest friend who had a miscarriage at the same time as me (incredibly enough, within days of one another), got pregnant again, I cried after every meeting with her for the duration of her pregnancy.  Even though I tried to support her as best I could and even organised her baby shower (note – just do not agree to organise someone else’s baby shower when you’re going through infertility, it is not a good idea). 

And let’s talk about the emotions you feel about this. The sense that you should be happy for those people around you who are getting pregnant when you’re not, is horrible. 

I felt like a horrible person that actually I wasn’t happy for them. I was jealous of them. 

I felt sad, jealous, guilty, angry, disheartened, frustrated. They had what I wanted, they had what I needed like a physical ache. Outwardly I would smile and in my usual people-pleasing way, say “of course I’m SOOO happy for them!” And on some level, I was. But I was also A LOT sad for us and I was genuinely suffering for weeks after every single pregnancy announcement.

The only time I saw Paul display any negative emotion was following yet another insensitive comment from a well-meaning family member. They had said, yet again, that all we needed to do was “RELAX” and “IT’LL HAPPEN.”  He nearly bit their head off. 

It just wasn’t that simple.  There was something the matter and we both knew it but we’d just been diagnosed with ‘unexplained infertility’ – a catch all term for when they don’t know what the heck is going on.  I’d had all manner of tests by this stage, including an HSG (hysterosalpingogram) where dye is injected into the womb and fallopian tubes – honestly one of the worst experiences of my life, so painful (although I’ve heard that it isn’t this painful for everyone, so if you’re waiting for one of these, keep in mind, this was just my experience and yours might be totally different, my love).


Paul went for his tests – let’s face it, they were nowhere near as intrusive as mine were, and yet his were treated by those who knew as some kind of affront to his manhood (which clearly they’re not – it takes two to tango and it makes just as much sense that the male partner is checked for fertility health as the female), whereas my tests were treated as very matter of fact and ‘this is just how it is.’

We were advised that it was looking like IVF might be necessary. I was immediately on board, and therefore so was Paul. We attended IVF information evenings at local fertility clinics. We spoke with people who had IVF to learn about their experiences.

Finally, our case was reviewed by a consultant who said, to my absolute relief – “you have PCOS. This ought to have been picked up years back and you ought to have been offered medication at the time to help with ovulation.” 

I was so validated. I was right. I bloody knew I was right. And also angry – how was this not picked up? I have suffered through all these months unnecessarily.

I began to take a medication called letrozole. It helps with ovulation in women who aren’t ovulating. I started with the lowest dose and cried when the numerous follicular scans showed absolutely nothing was happening. My dose was doubled the next cycle. And amazingly, something did happen. When I went for the next bout of scans (which were 3 or 4 times a week for around 2 or 3 weeks. No mean feat travelling there around work commitments and life commitments), there were 5 little follicles developing. 

The nurses firmly forbade any sex for the foreseeable in case we ended up with quintuplets (which honestly, I was fine with, can you imagine?!) and by the time I went back, this had dropped to two and then to one viable follicle. We followed the progress of this follicle with intense interest – each scan it had grown a little.

And that little follicle released a little egg, which was fertilised, implanted, and eventually became our little boy. 


This is likely the subject of another blog all together but pregnancy after loss and infertility is a HARD thing to go through and I’ll share my experiences another time.


What I want you to hear…

I just want to say that if you are currently in the thick of infertility.  If this is your world right now, I see you, I hear you, I feel you. This is likely the hardest time of your entire life, and you are going through this torture on a monthly basis. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this lovely; you shouldn’t have to deal with this. I know it must feel so bleak and so dark and so desperate right now, and there are no words to comfort you and no reassurance that anyone can give that things will be okay. Just know that you are not alone in how you feel and not alone in what you’re going through. 

Reach out, speak to someone – a professional, a close and loving friend or family member. 

Do the things you love. Make your plans now (because trust me, when that little human comes into your life, through whatever means they will come into your life – because if you want something this much, you will make it happen somehow – you will not have time for these plans anymore!) Go on holiday. Book that music festival. 

And always try to remember, that pee stick does not determine your worth. You are a whole, worthwhile, amazing person. You are enough.

Sarah x

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