It was back in May 2010 when my whole world fell apart. I was 15, hadn’t started my periods and I was getting increasingly concerned, especially as my younger sister had already started hers. My mam booked me an appointment with our GP and so we went, I was so nervous as I just knew something was wrong. The GP referred me to my local hospital when the tests began. I had never suffered with any sort of anxiety before, but this just blew it out of the water. During my first appointment I was actually physically sick. It started with my mam and I waiting in the children’s department of the hospital. I had to have my weight and height measured in the room with two doctors. I was examined internally, told to take my bra off, prodded and poked. I was left sobbing and in complete shock. The next test was in the maternity ward with new expectant mothers for an internal ultrasound, with tears streaming down my face I sat next to a glowing pregnant woman. I was then told that I would need to have more hormone tests at their fertility clinic. What? I was only 15, why was I needing to go there?
When I returned home I was a mess. I went straight up to my room and just sobbed, feeling like I had been violated and unable to process what just happened. I was not prepared in the slightest. During that time I was in the middle of my GCSEs, but soon I was struggling to even get out of bed on a morning with exams being the last thing on my mind. At this time I also got my first boyfriend, I tried my hardest to forget about the hospital and instead focused on spending time trying to be happy in my new relationship .
My follow up appointment came in the post, both mam and I went together. Not really knowing what to expect, I remember thinking that they’re going to tell me I need IVF and tried to prepare myself.
We sat down, two doctors in front of us, when one started drafting a diagram of the female reproduction system. She said, “your ovaries aren’t responding, your brain has failed to send signals to your ovaries to start working, you are technically in the menopause and you will never have children naturally, the only chance will be with donor egg IVF”. I switched off after she told me I couldn’t have children, broke down and sobbed. My mam sobbed too. I even remember her even offering to donate her own eggs at the time with the Dr saying, “I’m sorry, at 38 your eggs are too old!”
We soon left as I couldn’t take it anymore. I remember getting in my dads car as he anxiously sat outside waiting for the outcome. My mam just said the words “they have told our baby she can’t have kids”. My dad also broke down, we were all a mess. I went home got straight into bed. We were suppose to be going to Scotland that afternoon. My boyfriend came round, my mam told him and he sobbed too.
We were two 15 year olds sobbing in bed over infertility. Now we are two 25 year olds still sobbing in bed over infertility. POI has changed me and I don’t think I will ever get that girl back again. I still grieve over the loss of my genetics and find it hard to look at my own baby photos or images of me as a child because it’s a reminder that I won’t ever see me in anyone else genetically. My heart physically hurts knowing that I will never see the child James and I could have made together. But… because of these experiences I have a new, much stronger personality in place. We are so determined that we will have a family either through donor eggs or adoption that even on the darkest days we still see hope. I’ve still got hope that I will carry our child.
Over this last year I have gained so much more confidence and, although I’m not 100% shouting my diagnosis from the rooftops (I think that may take a while), I’m learning to reach out to others and share my story on my Instagram IVF account. I have met some incredible women including Jenny (@the_poi_guide) where we talk about all the different ways POI impacts on daily life, and also Becky (@definingmum) who gives me and my husband so much hope of parenthood in the future. Our next steps are to go ahead with our DEIVF cycle in Czech Republic, once the Covid situation allows us to. I hope my story can support others in knowing that however dark those days are, you will always always get through them and there is always hope.
I want to say a huge thank you to Kate for so bravely sharing her story. It’s important that we hear from people who have been diagnosed at very different stages of life, I just can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to process all of these emotions during such an important development stage, all whilst as a teenager you are finding your own identity. If you’d like to connect with Kate you can request to follow her on Instagram @positivevibes228.
I also want to mention The Daisy Network who offer great support for those experiencing POI at whatever stage of life.
Guest Blog – By Cat
As I sat on the edge of my bed, after just finishing another sobbing session in the shower….I looked in the mirror and saw a familiar sight. My eyes were all red, my face wet and blotchy and I couldn’t help but feel angry, helpless and incredibly sad. An inevitable sadness that washes over me every now and then when I get a question, a comment or even someone else’s pictures of parenthood that hurts like a horrific paper-cut! Thankfully throughout my 33 years I haven’t lost any close members of my family or friends, with grief being an emotion I’ve largely been able to escape. However, I can say that the grief that comes with infertility is very real and hurts like hell. I debated about continuing to feel sorry for myself for the remainder of the day OR I could dry my face, eyes (and hair!) and continue with my day.
The reality was I was in the grips of infertility…..I had been for the past 8 years ever since my ovaries decided to take an early retirement without consulting me – or as doctors prefer to call it, “Premature Ovarian Insufficiency”. My body had decided it couldn’t quite release eggs anymore -although it could still potentially carry a baby.
Looking back, myself and my husband were married in the summer of 2018. We blissfully decided that we would try naturally for our first year and, maybe just maybe, we might get lucky. Sadly I could hear my first fertility doctors words of ‘less than 5% of conceiving naturally’ ringing in my ears and it proved true. We found ourselves in a private fertility clinic in Belfast a few days after our first wedding anniversary, with an incredibly kind and sympathetic gynaecologist. He had that look in his eye when he pointed out we had three options. Acceptance, adoption or donor egg IVF. After going through all of the necessary scans and tests he concluded we were ‘prime candidates’ for the procedure ‘DEIVF’. After much discussion with our family and a few selected close friends we decided to go for it! A chance to carry a baby that was at least genetically related to one of us? What an incredible feat of science and medicine IVF is.
As the youngest in my family, I’m the only one who isn’t a parent. Most of the time it’s never an issue but when I least expect it – it will hit me like a train, leaving me in an emotional wreck in its path. On a typical chilled Sunday morning, I received three text messages / pictures within 20 minutes from my family showing what their children were doing that morning, everyone cooing over them (naturally). I went to the bathroom to have a shower and once again I could feel the horrible, yet familiar, wave of sadness and grief hit me.
What did I do to deserve this?
Will I ever be a mummy?
I turned on the water, turned up my Spotify playlist to ensure my husband wouldn’t hear me and I exploded into tears. I couldn’t stop – well I did after 3 Snow Patrol songs. The infertility sadness that I’d come to know all too well was holding me it’s prisoner once again. As someone with a cancelled donor egg IVF treatment (cheers Covid!) I was heartbroken – and felt like complete crap. I managed to have my shower and slump off to my room to get dressed. I sat at my dresser, looked in the mirror thought “Enough is enough; Don’t let infertility rob you anymore”. So simple, yet so true.
Infertility has obviously robbed me of the chance to try and conceive a child naturally, if I let it take hold of me even more, my mental health would suffer more than it already has. Infertility is a bit like a wound. It can heal up well, but every now and then it can open up, fester and cause a hell of a lot of pain. It’s robbed me of so much. At my worst I find myself avoiding certain social gatherings, family events and it can even make me isolate myself from everything and everyone I love (all pre Covid…obviously). Today I thought to myself……not anymore.
“Don’t let it rob you anymore”. Such a simple affirmation….why didn’t I think of this before? On this occasion, I got up, got dressed and made dinner. I went for a walk and FaceTimed my sister and her adorable 6 month old twin girls. Infertility can prevent you from so much, but not today my old foe. I’m not completely naive – I know that this affirmation may work for me on some of my ‘sad days’ but I also have the knowledge that on others it won’t, but today it does help and for now that’s enough…
Myself and my husbands fertility story is most definitely in its infancy (pardon the pun), but after having to cancel our overseas trip for our donor egg IVF treatment because of coronavirus – at the moment I find myself experiencing sad days much more frequently. However, infertility has robbed me of so much that today and many others, I’m determined to not let it ruin my life. Yes it has and will leave a huge mark. The wound I previously referred to will most definitely leave a scar. But just like scars, we learn to accept them and live with them….I hope as we all move forward throughout this horrible pandemic that things will get better. Myself and my husband will, like many other couples, begin to reschedule and plan for our treatment. So until then….I will continue to hope, dream and plan….because like many others in this infertility bubble….that’s all we can really do, for now….
Love, Cat x
A little more about me…
In one of my days of research I decided to see if I could find any other women who may be in my position or who have come through to the ‘other side’. In the last 6 months, Instagram has opened me up to a whole new network and community of other women and couples who not only ’gets it’ but who are always there for reassurance, guidance and advice. As a secondary school teacher I remain private on social media, revealing everything or ‘going public’ is just something I’m not quite comfortable with yet while I remain at this side of the fence (pre-baby) but in years to come, I can see myself not only being open about it all, but also reaching out to other people if they need any help or even just for someone to listen. I always like meeting others who have been or are experiencing similar to me, so if you’d like to connect with me privately please send a message to Becky @definingmum who will put us in contact.