One thing you quickly learn about the infertility road is that it's paved with acronyms. 2WW, AF, BFP, FS, BFN, POAS, DPO, TTC, BD – there are websites with pages dedicated to explaining these terms so that the beginner doesn't think they've stumbled on a foreign language. The 2ww is the two week wait, the time when you stagger from one day to the next, desperately hoping that this time you won't see AF (Auntie Flo – your period) for another nine months. That's where I was until today.
You do the BD (baby making dance) as directed by the doc and you then wait. This is one of the most psychologically gruelling parts of infertility, in my opinion.
Every time I've finished the BD I've thought that this was IT, this time I've conceived, this egg was a charmer and the sperm loved her. Then I've had to temper that hope and excitement with an exhausted voice of reason that reminds me how hard it is to see a BFN (big fat negative) after I have POAS (peed on a stick).
There is this tightrope I have to walk every day as I try not to think about whether or not I am pregnant and distract myself with work and friends and life. The problem is, I can't help but analyse every single symptom I have and think, "Oh my goodness, that's such a positive sign!"
With this cycle I had everything. My breasts were tender, I was utterly exhausted from the moment I woke up, certain foods just didn't play nicely with my sense of smell, and I cried over a toilet paper advert. Yes, that last bit was a little embarrassing for all concerned and my husband is still cackling about it.
I read other fertility forums and scoured the web for anything that matched my situation and I found thousands of women all struggling with the 2WW.
In this no-man's land of ghost symptoms and hope, we examine every mood swing and food craving as if it were a sign of a positive line on a pregnancy test. The problem is, there's no guarantee or sure thing when it comes to managed fertility. Symptoms that could mean pregnancy for someone who conceived naturally are skewed by the pills popped by the infertiles to help boost their systems.
I then heard about a site called Fertilomat that was recently launched to give woman a quick fertility test based on their honest answers of a series of questions and I wanted something to cheer me up, a magic fertility eight ball that would tell me I could one day be pregnant.
I got a Ferti Index of 53.50 which means a 1:2 chance of getting pregnant. Those odds were fantastic and a lot better than those the specialist gave me, although the site does clearly say that this is based on research and you need to see a professional if you cannot fall pregnant. Still, I felt encouraged and hope bloomed again.
During my 2WW I had to take a tablet called Utrogestan twice a day. These tablets were not originally designed as fertility drugs, but they have become so widely used by FS (fertility specialists) that the manufacturer has started providing applicators with the 200mg boxes (only in the US).
The tablets are pure progesterone and help to thicken the lining of your womb, making it far easier for my bedraggled old eggs to stagger over and implant themselves. It's a bit like sticking a "Park Here" sign on the wall of your uterus and hoping that Kevin Costner's "If you build it, they will come" is true.
While these tablets are supposed to be helpful, they also tend to mimic all the symptoms of pregnancy. Your breasts get tender, your stomach bloats, you feel nauseous, you need to wee every 10 minutes and you're as tired as a tired person on tired day with tired clothes on. In short, they are bastards.
So I sat through my umpteenth 2WW and this time I really believed I was pregnant. I did. I don't know why this cycle felt so right or why my heart was sure that I would get a BFP (big fat positive), but no matter how hard I tried to keep myself balanced , I was a barrel of hope.
Then, at 14 DPO (days past ovulation) I did the test. I was awake long before I should have been and lay there like a giant breath waiting to be taken.
I had spent the last 14 days desperately wanting this moment to just get here already, and now I was scared. I didn't want the bad news, not today, not on my birthday, but that little voice of hope said, "What if it's positive? What a present that will be!"
I snuck into the loo and hopped from one foot to the other, suddenly dying for a wee and incapable of getting the plastic off the pregnancy test (what's with that insane packaging, anyway?). Then I did the test and stared at the plastic with my heart beating so hard that I started to worry I might need to call 999.
The test line appeared and the instructions said I needed to hold on a full five minutes before reading the result. I held the test to the light, I tilted it to the left, I angled it in every direction, but when time was up I was still Not Pregnant. Happy birthday to me.
You can read Tamsin's previous columns here.