For the first few months trying for a baby is brilliant fun. Every time we had sex I wanted it to be extra special in case that was the moment we conceived and it seemed important that our child was created out of a romantic and meaningful experience not a quickie. We furtively bought ‘What to expect before you’re expecting’ and started to cut down on drinking and ensuring we were eating the right foods. I was popping back folic acid. We made sure we did all the right things.
As the months ticked on and no cigar, things became harder. I began looking at my ovulation cycles more seriously. I started reading books about fertility. Then the charting began. I took my temperature every morning. I’m naturally optimistic so I was thinking positively, even if everything is working right, it can still take months to conceive!
But slowly slowly we began to feel the pressure. We hadn’t told anyone (apart from my best friend) and I was initially thankful for that decision because the pressure you feel just between you begins to gnaw away at you. At first you push it to the back of your mind. But once the doubt is there it’s hard to ignore it. It’s hard because you are also massively aware that feeling stressed and pressured can make things not happen, you need to relax and chill out, blah de blah blah. But I think you must be superhuman if after a year of trying things aren’t getting to you. By now you’re trying to have sex at the optimum times, and if you’re us, working around busy work schedules when we both work away and trying to make it romantic. It’s bloody hard! I remember one particular failure moment. We were both working hard and we arranged to nip home at lunchtime and get it on. But we were both so busy, I was on back to back conference calls, T was preparing for a shoot, and strangely enough we just weren’t in the zone and after a few minutes of gallantly giving it a go we gave up, it just wasn’t happening. Luckily we were pretty much always able to laugh about it but underneath it all, it’s hard to crush that feeling that you’ve probably had it for another month.
Suddenly everything you hear and see is a reminder of what’s not happening. Everyone in the world seems to be getting pregnant at the drop of a hat. In the time we were trying, Wills and Kate got married, announced their first pregnancy, had baby George, announced second pregnancy. The frogs in the pond spawned like billy-o, even Tian Tian the giant panda at Edinburgh Zoo was displaying nesting habits (although I think it turned out later to be a false alarm). It seemed like all our friends were announcing pregnancies and having babies.
The hardest thing was not becoming bitter and begrudging other people’s happiness. We did a lot of avoiding situations and became very good at pretending to be okay. We became experts at dodging and deflecting the ‘when are you two going to have kids?’ question. A well meaning conversation starter from friends and family that twists a knife into you. I will never ask that question to anyone now. According to the NHS 1 in 7 couples will have difficulty conceiving.
One night I was feeling particularly low and having a good cry in bed and T said we can’t let this situation define us. We are not going to let this turn us bitter and resentful. We are bigger than that. Be happy for our friends. Moments like this, remind me why I love him.