TTC Confessions

Time for a nice little downer post. Yes, I’ve officially become “one of those trying-to-conceive nutjobs”. I’d say I have no regrets but you know what? I’d much rather not be like this. Just for the moment, it’s all got a bit too much and I need to blow off some steam with some confessions.

Confession Number 1 – Every period is like a bereavement
I only have to see a spot of blood now on more or less the right day and that’s it. I only let myself full-on wallow for a day, but it still feels like every single cramp is a punishment. You didn’t ‘do’ it right, you’re too fat, you lifted too many boxes, you got too stressed. That’s the rhythm that beats in my head, constantly for at least six days in every 24.
When I see that blood, it doesn’t matter how good everything else might be. For that first few minutes, I sit there every single time and wish the world would end and take me with it.

Confession Number 2I’m pretty sure I know more about the biology of conception than most medical professionals
I’m an obsessive researcher anyway; anyone who’s ever had the pleasure/misfortune of going on holiday with me knows that. Throw in my own body and my future and I hit whole new levels of obsession. At a push, if someone went into labour in front of me right now, I’d be able to deliver the baby. At any point in the month, I can tell you which hormones I’m supposed to be releasing and which cell is supposed to be where, and for how long.
It’s not just googling, by the way. The other day I made a special visit to the Hunterian Museum in London, mostly so I could stare at the samples of ‘generation’ (as the labels on the jars proclaim them to be). I spent far too long staring at preserved fallopian tubes and four-week fetuses. Utterly fascinating. If anything ever ends up taking residence in my uterus, I’ll know exactly what it looks like and I think that’s pretty cool.

Confession Number 3there’s a lot of crying
Hormones, depression, whatever. I seem to spend most of my life right now with a huge painful lump in my throat from trying not to cry. At work, at home in front of the telly, writing blog posts on the bus at 6 in the morning. Even listening to the Lion King soundtrack can set me off.
By the way, I’m good – really good – at putting on a face. You might think I’m in a perfectly good mood, bantering away at my coffee machine like always. But there’s a good chance that when I disappear for a few minutes to ‘sort something in the office’ I’m going in there to put my head on the desk and howl because someone just came in with a newborn. I got set off the other day because a couple at the bus stop were heartily ignoring their cherubic cooing baby so they could smoke their fags right over its buggy; I absolutely howled at the injustice that they’ve got a baby and I haven’t.

Confession Number 4I’m ragingly jealous and the hatred that spews out of me is terrifying
So many of my peers are getting pregnant right now. So, so many. It seems like a new one every week. I’m happy for them. I’m not far gone enough yet not to realise that. I am. I don’t know their stories. For all I know, they could have been in my situation, or worse.
But that doesn’t stop the jealousy and the vitriol burning me up to the point where it’s not unknown for me to throw my phone at the wall when a new ‘belly shot’ pops up on social media. It scares me a bit, I don’t like feeling like this. And I would never act like that to anyone’s face. Like I said, I am happy for them. I’m just also really really sad for me and my husband, and sometimes that comes out in rage. Especially when they find things to moan about that amaze me – if you have a healthy child or are pregnant, in my mind you need to count your lucky stars right away and get a bit of perspective. Obviously, that’s TTC-selfishness and absolute bullshit. I know it full well, but I can’t bloody stop myself.

Confession Number 5I pee on a lot of sticks
For two weeks of the month or so, women who are trying to conceive are existing in a state of Schrödinger’s Uterus. And the only way of possibly attempting to communicate with that cat while the box is closed is by weeing on sticks. Even though it’s absolutely pointless most of the time, because you know it’s far too early to tell anything, you do it anyway. Then when the test is negative, you can tell yourself you tested too early and the test is bound to be positive tomorrow. Or the next day, or the next.
I’d be a good blogger and recommend my favourite pee-sticks to you, but there would be no point because the sodding feline has always kicked the bucket anyway.

Confession Number 6if you tell me to ‘just relax and it’ll happen’ I will impale you on the end of a chopstick
I think I speak for everyone trying to conceive when I say this. No matter how well-meant, ‘just relax’ and its many, many variants are possibly the least helpful, most irritating things you can hear when you’re trying to have a baby. Have you ever tried to ‘relax’ when you’re, I don’t know, running away from a massed zombie horde waving bloody Bodyform packets, at the same time attempting to catch a Golden Snitch that’s hovering approximately eight feet above your head?
That’s my life. Enjoy ‘relaxing’.

Confession Number 7 every symptom is pregnancy… then none of them are
I used to symptom-spot with the best of them. Every tiny twinge would set me off. This has to be it! That can’t be a usual thing!
But now, eighteen cycles on, I know otherwise. I have had every single ‘early pregnancy’ symptom you can think of and it’s not been right once. Sore boobs, nausea, dizziness, pulling sensations, heightened sense of smell, back pain, wind, heartburn, implantation spotting, headaches, hunger, insomnia, vivid dreams, runny nose, prominent veins, mood swings. Take your pick.
The fact of the matter is, anything that can possibly be a symptom of pregnancy is also a symptom of your period revving up. Every single cycle, your body prepares itself for a pregnancy whether you’ve conceived or not. So realistically, none of the ‘symptoms’ mean squat. I have now reached the point where I can sit in an ancient sports bra because my boobs are so painful, and I’ll still shrug it off. It means nothing.

I am now all out of confessions, for now. That felt very cathartic. And if anyone stumbles upon this who is in the same boat, know that you’re not alone. There’s loads of us out there and we all feel like shit sometimes. Have a good rant; it definitely helps.

Something missing this Christmas

I love Christmas. I love how beautiful this lovely flat is, now it’s cosy and Christmassy and lit with fairy lights. I love that I can come home from work late at night and my fantastic husband has put a big tray of comfort food in the oven for me and stuck a Lego Lady Galadriel on top of the Christmas tree.

But this isn’t how I imagined this Christmas would be.

A year and a half ago I imagined there would be a baby here for this Christmas, about six months old perhaps, not really understanding what’s going on, but cooing and chewing up all the wrapping paper. Getting their first tiny tastes of turkey. I’d be buying exceedingly tacky little outfits, becoming even more insufferable on Instagram.

Time went on a bit.

OK, I thought. I imagined there would be a newborn here for this Christmas. Holding them up to the Christmas tree, unfocussed eyes staring at the pretty lights. Going to the Christmas markets with a tiny mite in a sling strapped to my husband’s chest. Insufferable Instagramming present and correct.

Time went on a bit more.

Oh, all right. I imagined I would be hugely pregnant for this Christmas. A cute little bump – well, knowing me, a bloody enormous one, seeing as I wouldn’t even remotely stop myself from scoffing every pig in a blanket I could get my hands on.

Time just carried on going.

Fine! I imagined I would be newly pregnant for this Christmas. Maybe queasy with morning sickness, but filled with a joy that had nothing to do with the holiday season. Perhaps able to tell my mother and my husband’s mother the good news with their presents on Christmas morning.

And now we get to today. I’m looking at my beautiful Christmas tree in my lovely flat, and all my potential Christmases are just floating away behind me.

This Christmas will be lovely. There are decorations, and advent calendars. There will be presents, and turkey, and family. I know I’m so lucky to have this much.

But still there’s a part of me that can’t help but think of what we’re missing.


Conception? Exception.

As some of you might have known, my husband and I decided a while ago that we’d quite like to get us one of those baby things. You know, cute, small, often smell a bit like poo but have very sweet gummy smiles to make up for it?

We want a small version of the two of us; a tiny nerd obsessed with Harry Potter and trains, who likes cycling but also to bury their nose in a book for hours on end. A little girl with my eyes and my husband’s stoic pragmatism; a hyperactive little boy with curly hair, a dimple in his chin and a terrible sense of balance on a bicycle.

It’s not happened yet.

And it’s been over a year.

Did you know, pregnancy symptoms and PMS symptoms are pretty much exactly the same? Did you know that you can buy pregnancy tests in packs of 50? Did you know that if we were in the US, I would be labelled infertile by this point?

I am a one-woman repository of ‘trying to conceive’ information. I’m not kidding: if you want to know about luteal cycles or cervcial mucous, I’m your girl. It just kind of happens, when you’re trying for this long. You become so well acquainted with good old Dr Google that you diagnose yourself with every reproductive illness going. You agonise over forum posts from years ago, deciding that you’re ‘just like her’ with every poster going.

Every month, you convince yourself that this is it, this is your month. That tiny bit of nausea must mean something, that tiny pain on the left side of your pelvis must be implantation cramps. Then when the blood appears and your heart sinks to the bathroom floor, it’s like a small bereavement.

I know it’s only been a year. Some people take far longer than a year – and we’re the lucky ones. I may have had a chemical pregnancy last December, but it was so early (and so badly mishandled by the NHS, but that’s another story) that it was never even fully confirmed. I believe it’s in my notes as ‘catastrophic bleed’ or something similarly vague. In a year, we could have had far worse than that; I know couples who have struggled with miscarriage after miscarriage.

We’re the lucky ones.

If I repeat that to myself enough times, it might eventually help. With the pain, the heartbreak, the absolute soul-destroying jealousy every time someone else announces a pregnancy the same week – the same bloody day – my period rolls around.

Soon, I’ll finally bite the bullet and go to the doctor. I know I’ll be told to go away again – after the aforementioned ‘catastrophic bleed’ I was more or less given a full MOT – but it might put my mind at rest.

The most painful thing of all? This isn’t just hurting me; it’s hurting my husband.

I’m not 100% sure why I wanted to share this. I suppose I want people to understand why sometimes I’m distracted; sometimes I might not want to be sociable or particularly friendly. Plus, I know there’s a lot of you out there my age, just married, just settling down and starting to think about having kids too – this kind of thing could happen to you one day. I feel totally alone in it most of the time. I don’t want anyone else to have to feel like that.

I solemnly promise that I will always be here to listen to anyone talk about BBT, CM, and DTD – believe me, there will come a day when those acronyms mean something to you and you’ll find yourself possessed with a strange desire to discuss them.