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04th Mar 2017

Looking for the off switch: one woman’s honest and raw account of her fertility struggle

Alison Bough

I need your help. I need to find this “off switch” people have told me about. The one everyone references when talking about fertility. The button that allows you to “put it to the back of your mind” or even better “forget about it” completely! The magic wand that allows you to get back to living your life in the time between wanting a baby and having a baby.

I can’t even remember the day we decided that two should become three. In fact we were so content for so long in our marriage with just the two of us that I can genuinely remember a time where I wasn’t sure we would ever add to what we had. Couples who were having children before us having gotten married after us were missing out really weren’t they? We were so smug for a while I thought we might never have the conversation. But the holidays, or dinners, or the trips to the cinema, all of a sudden they had something missing. We were sitting together in a restaurant, still happy together but at the same time slowly realising how much we would love to have a third member of the family now. An extra pea in our pod I guess.

Smiling at each other, a little terrified and a lot excited we knew we were ready. That was over two years ago. I’m completely mortified now to admit I was shocked and horrified when it didn’t happen instantly. In my innocent mind we would get pregnant right away and we would be announcing our news that Christmas. How naïve. I am cringing even writing that to be honest.

A life on hold

Of course, Christmas came and went. There was no announcement. No card from bump. No “this time next year” chat to be had. It was fine though, a new year had started and it was going to be our year. We shouldn’t plan anything for summer holidays really. You never know how far along I could be. Should we buy those concert tickets or would I be eight months pregnant by then?

You don’t stop living as such but before you even realise it you start to put your life on hold. Then you wait and wait and every month comes along and all of a sudden it’s summer, it’s autumn, it’s winter. It’s spring, it’s summer, it’s autumn, and it’s winter. Then it’s spring again and you look back at the time that’s passed.

We still travelled last-minute, booking the month before. Careful of ovulation dates mind you. Wondering if flying would be safe when you’re not even pregnant yet. Wondering if you could be flying home pregnant. Friends and family members announce pregnancies and you’re happy but it hurts a little. Then the pregnancies turn into babies and you’re hurt a little more. That sounds weird but I think people might understand it. It’s like you are happy but a little confused thinking, “how could that have happened so fast?”

“Their whole pregnancy has come and gone and you’re still waiting for lines on a test.”

Yes we’ve been to clinics and no, there is no massive hurdle in the way. A few small issues but “nothing to worry about” in the words of our doctor. Some of his other quotes include “you’re still so young” or “it can take years” and other sentiments that make me want to strangle him a little teeny tiny bit.

You start to try other suggestions that people have so kindly offered up. Acupuncture. Silent nuns. Lying with your legs in the air even though you know 100% (thanks Google) that it does not work like that. But someone in a shop once told you that she swears by it and she has 17 kids now.

But it hasn’t happened yet.

Suddenly you realise that you are barely the person you were before. Now you can’t remember how you could have ever have been content as two. You’re half existing. You don’t sign up for the race or plan that trip away. You’re in on a secret that they don’t know about. You’re going to be pregnant.

The number one thing that everyone tells you is the single most impossible challenge I have encountered to date, “put it to the back of your mind” or “stop thinking about it.”

I cannot find that switch. Can people actually do that? Is that really a thing? Are these women living amongst us or are they some sort of superhuman breed? What trick am I missing here because I know it hasn’t been forever. I know people wait a lot longer than we already have.

I still believe that it will happen for us…eventually. I just need to know what to do in the space between now and then.

 – An anonymous Irish woman on the verge of losing her tiny mind.