I don't think I've shared with you before the nitty-gritty on why this pregnancy was so unexpected. It makes for a good story, believe me.
Back in 2005, when I was 33, my squillion-year relationship came to an end. I had thought I might have children with this man, we'd bought our house to be near a good school, etc etc, and then, well, it didn't work out. At this point I had several things on my mind, one of them being how I might possibly get over the heartbreak, but squidged in there with the other big stuff was the question of children, and whether I would now ever get to be a mum.
I'd not been particularly focused on having children in my twenties, and the maternal instinct was only creeping up on me slowly in my thirties, I must admit. But when I became single, and having a child seemed nigh on impossible, it all became much more pressing.
You've probably gathered already that I'm a bit of a control freak, and not one for throwing caution to the wind or leaving important matters to chance. So, my first thought was egg freezing, so that I could hang on to meet a new partner, or go for parenting alone in the future.
I did my homework, realised egg freezing wasn't reliable as solutions go but still it was a chance. I talked to experienced friends about the merits of various fertility clinics, and eventually opted for the London Women's Clinic, because they freeze eggs and they also seemed to have the best supply of donor sperm - a rare commodity.
I had the usual run of fertility tests that a couple going through IVF would have, plus a more advanced inhibin-B test, which gives an earlier indicator of ovarian reserve before other hormones catch up. Going to the clinic on my own wasn't too dreadful, though I do remember dealing with it in a very detached frame of mind, so as not to feel too lonely or a complete failure.
I'd expected the test results to be fairly OK, as I'm generally healthy, and was shocked when they came back much less positive than I'd hoped. In a nutshell, all was working fine apart from the big one, ovarian reserve. The indicators suggested I had a much lower level of eggs left than was normal for my age. The consultant's advice was don't bother freezing as they probably won't survive the process, get on with it now with donor sperm and don't expect much. She put it a little more softly than that.
It took a while for all of that info to sink in, plus the despair to settle about how I might now be facing a future both without my partner and my imagined kids.
The next step, a year later, and after a lot of support from a group of inspiring single women on the infertility website FertilityFriends.co.uk, and some counselling, I went to see a consultant at the Lister Clinic to have the tests re-done. The results felt just as bleak; "not no chance, but a low chance" of ever conceiving.
This was backed up by a third investigation, including an internal scan, this time at Kings College Hospital, where the consultant was much keener for me to leave it to nature than interfere with IVF, either alone or with a partner. I began saving up an IVF fund anyway.
Two things happened next, both of which feel pretty miraculous. Firstly, just when I was least expecting it, I met a truly lovely man and very slowly began to allow what I thought would be just a friendship into a relationship. Secondly, and astoundingly, some time later, only three weeks after we tentatively moved in together, we got pregnant naturally in the first month of my life that I had ever not used contraception, and without us "trying", so to speak. Literally, just like that. We had a nice day out, saw a movie, had a nice meal, came home and made a baby. Bingo.
And so, I'm now 31 weeks pregnant, we're both overwhelmingly happy about that fact but also surprised by it on a daily basis. If you're out there feeling desperate about your own fertility dilemma, I hope this gives you a boost. Believe me, for three years I felt like the world's least fertile woman, and now I might be without a paddle but hell, I'm up the duff!
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