Emma contacted me as she felt that stories of women struggling to conceive are still a little taboo and she wants to break the silence about an issue that is actually quite common. As always, I like to get a rounded view of a woman so I asked Emma questions about her life generally as well as her journey whilst struggling to conceive.
Please tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years.
I had a great childhood! I have two younger sisters and I grew up in a tiny village in Fife in the East of Scotland. I spent most of my younger years outdoors, either playing hide and seek in the woods or going for cycles runs around the local countryside. It was the kind of place where everyone knew each other and families got together for bbqs and parties. As a teenager, I had a big group of friends and we spent a lot of our time going swimming in our nearest town and our summers where spent camping in each other’s back gardens. Sadly, when I was 16 I lost my best friend in an accident. She was the heart of our group and we all started to drift apart. That’s when I left school and went to college and started my first job.
What was your first job/career?
My first job was in my local hospital. Everyone in my village had a relative or a friend who worked there as it was just a couple miles away. My neighbour had always told me as soon as I was 16 she would help me get a job and sure enough just a couple of months after my 16th birthday I started my first job as a General Assistant. I was basically just a cleaner, but I was so happy to be earning some money and felt so grown up. The hospital is primarily for people with mental illness so it was daunting for a young girl who knew nothing about this subject at all. However after just my first day there I loved it. I ended up spending just over four years in the post and I sometimes wish I could go back and work there.
Please tell us a little about your relationship.
I met Dougie nearly 3 years ago, through ice hockey which is a sport that we both love to watch. We met on the supporters’ bus to Nottingham, where our team was heading to play in the Playoff Finals and because he was friends with my younger sister we spent a lot of time with each other over the weekend. I had not long gotten out of a long relationship and he sat and spoke to me about it over a cup of tea in McDonald’s at 2am. Once we got home he texted me to say he had a great weekend and to ask if he could take me out for tea. Two days later he picked me up and we have been together ever since.
When did you decide, you wanted to be a mum and what appealed to you about that?
I think I always wanted to be mum. At parties and family gatherings I was always the one crawling around on the floor, playing and entertaining the children. I’ve always been very maternal. Even as a child I was always carrying around a doll and looking after people. I spent a year and half as a nanny and knew then that being a mum was what I was supposed to do. When I met Dougie I knew he really wanted children someday and we decided about a year ago that we wanted to try properly.
Please tell us a little about your issues with fertility and the treatment you have received.
I had always had problems with my period from when I was younger but never really thought much of it and went on the pill. I had to come off it around April 2016 and my cycle never came back. When we decided last year that we wanted to have a baby I made an appointment with my GP and they referred me to the Gynaecologist. I was told by my GP that most likely I would have to be trying properly for a year before I got any treatment. However I was referred straight away as they saw no point in me trying if I hadn’t had a cycle in over a year. On my first appointment, last year I was prescribed a pill called Provera which is a form of progesterone that will cause you to have a period. Once we knew that this would work I had a Laparoscopy and Dye Test to check for Polycystic Ovaries or endometriosis and to ensure my fallopian tubes where clear. Although I had been told a couple of times that I had PCOS they confirmed that there was no sign of this and that there was no sign of any problems so I have been given the green light to start Clomid, which is a drug used to stimulate ovulation. I have my next appointment in March to hopefully get this started.
Who is supporting you at this challenging time?
I have a lot of people supporting me through this. Both mine and Dougie’s family both know as well as some of our friends. I have also told my work collagues as I often leave work for appointments and I hate having to lie about where I am going and I just like having someone to talk to about things. I have felt it is very important to be transparent about my fertility issues as it is such taboo subject and I feel it shouldn’t be. I want to be able to help others and raise awareness so I don’t want to keep it a secret. Social media has also been very helpful. I got a lot of information from people online for example when I had my laparoscopy I got a lot of information and advice. It is great knowing there is others going through the same as me at the same time.
Do you have any tips/wise words for someone struggling to conceive?
My most helpful advice would be to just stay positive or it will be a lot harder and put stress on your body when trying to conceive. I struggled a lot with the initial fact I was having to be referred to the fertility clinic. I had always just thought I would get pregnant quickly so I spent countless times asking myself, why me? The best piece of advice I saw was from Izzy Judd who went through IVF to have her daughter. I seem to be more aware now of people posting pregnancy announcements or noticing someone with their newborn. Izzy’s advice is to always be happy for them as we don’t know their journey. They may have waited years for that baby and here we are being jealous of them. I know see it in a positive light and when I see a new baby or an announcement I smile and think that will be me soon.
If you could recommend one book to a woman what would it be and why?
It wasn’t until I started reading about infertility that I came across Izzy Judd, the wife of Mcfly drummer Harry Judd. She had written a book all about her struggle to get pregnant and how she had her baby girl through IVF. This book is so helpful. It is full of advice about dealing with the emotions of fertility issues and how to remain positive. I have this book by my bedside and whenever I feel a little down about things I pick it up and read a little bit.
If you could recommend one website to a woman what would it be and why?
Fertility Network UK has been a website I’ve used a lot. They’re a charity organisation that works to raise awareness and provides support for the 3.5 million people affected by fertility issues. There is lots of interesting information on their website from the latest news in research to sharing other people’s journeys to become parents.
Have you considered other ways to become a mum such as fostering, adoption or something else?
This is something me and Dougie have yet to discuss. I think we want to wait and see what happens and will think about these things when we need to. I would consider adopting if I could not have my own child and I have always like the idea of being a foster parent when I am a little older.
Do you feel fertility issues should be spoken about more?
I 100% think that fertility issues should be spoken about more in society, especially in high schools. I went on the pill at around 18 and spent my early 20s desperately trying to not get pregnant. I didn’t know any better and never in a million years thought that I would be going through a struggle to have a baby. Until my first appointment I never knew what treatments were available, how common fertility issues really are or knew of anyone who had been through it. I see so many young girls on social media or in public complaining about having a period or messing around with their pill so they stop periods. It’s not until you go through something like this that you release how important all these things are.
Do you have experience of struggling to conceive? Do you have any advice for Emma and women like her?