A new column on Parentdish.
"Please, please be OK," I said to my ovaries, "Please. Don't let the doctor be right. Just please be healthy and fine and..."
I was in my car, driving home from an appointment with a new fertility specialist.
"Why are you here, my dear?" he asked, resting his hands on his steepled fingers, every inch the educated specialist.
"To have a baby," I said, feeling the tears threaten at just those four simple words.
Who knew that I would one day weep on the floor of my toilet at the sight of a red stain? And that my bin would be littered with Not Pregnant results, some snapped in half thanks to a moment of frustrated rage.
I nodded at this man, this person who I had spent weeks waiting to see and who I thought was Hope, and I repeated, "Yes, to have a baby."
He winked at me and said, "Let's hope my wife doesn't hear that, eh?", and roared with laughter at his own joke.
Yes. That's hilarious.
I enjoy jokes like that when my emotions feel as though they've spent the night cuddling a pot scourer.
I felt Hope dwindle and by the end of the appointment it was dead.
This very expensive hour saw Vile Doc tell me that I was too fat (I'm more of an 11 than a 10) and too old. I was also given a very detailed description as to how conception takes place as if I was 12, not 41, and then I was sent home with this brilliant advice.
"Maybe look into adoption, dear. Your ovaries are just too old."
So there I was, sitting in my car at a traffic light, reduced to having a one-sided conversation with my ovaries who, it must be said, are not much for talking. This was in January. Cold, wet, miserable January 2013, and I was struggling to put a brave face onto my two and a half year journey through secondary infertility.
When we first decided to have baby number two back in 2011 I was 39 and had no clue that my eggs were apparently already hooked up to zimmer frames, inching their way down my fallopian tubes and throwing their knitting at passing sperm. I thought I could just lie back and get pregnant and be well on my way to a complete family within a year.
I hit 40 with no sign of pregnancy; instead I suffered from an incredibly violent and painful period that worried me enough to visit my GP. It turned out that I'd had a very early miscarriage, one so new that it had only time enough to make my system go into a hormonal tailspin before failing.
I was quite shaken by this news, but I was so grateful because this was when I asked the question – can I get some help, please?
The answer? No. Sorry, you have just missed your chance, the cut off is 40.
I had lost the opportunity to get help through the NHS by four stupid weeks. This was when I realised that I had to save money, suck it up and go private because another child is absolutely worth the extra hours of work, stress and cost.
Life is too short and too precious to not grab every chance, which brings me neatly back to turning into a crazy person at traffic lights...
Vile Doc was clearly a bust. I had found his name through online forums and reading up on comments from other women in the infertility boat and no idea what to do next.
The thing is, there isn't exactly a directory of fertility doctors that ranks them according to their bedside manner and success rate. No, what you get is a list of fertility centres and you pick the ones that you can actually get to on a regular basis without having to drive six hours each way.
When I got home from Vile Doc I sent out a request via Facebook, "Can anyone recommend a good fertility specialist in my area?"
One old friend I'd not heard from in many years piped up with, "Yes, call this doctor at this clinic, I now have twins." I immediately called to make an appointment and was told I had another two month wait, and that was early because someone had cancelled.
This is the thing about infertility when you are in your 40s, every single day your percentages drop. Every. Single. Day.
Your eggs start aging from the minute you are born and the older you get, the worse your chances. When you have to wait two months for an appointment all you can see is two eggs wasted and either one of those could have been one of the last good eggs left in your ovaries.
Here are some of the horrible statistics. The risk of miscarriage increases to 35 of my eggs as genetically abnormal now I am over 40. Add to this a maybe five percent chance of falling pregnant naturally each month, and this drops as I age with my standing a one percent chance of falling pregnant using my own eggs by the time I am 45. One percent.
Very few women over the age of 44 are still fertile and from my age, now 41, to when I turn 42 in July, my fertility will drop by about nearly four percent.
So how does a woman stay optimistic in the face of these odds? I've cried on the shoulder of an infertile friend, I've scoured forums and lapped up stories of hope and success, and I've started doing some rather odd therapies to try and improve my odds. Cupping anyone?
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