"We already had a son. Our gorgeous boy, Jake. We’d started trying to conceive again when he was about two and a half and I had no reason to doubt that I would fall pregnant straight away. I was genuinely shocked when the first month came and went and I couldn’t shout “pregnant!” from the roof tops.
Month two sent me into a real slump and by the time spring turned to summer and summer to autumn, still with no luck, I was firmly in the grip of what could only be described as an obsession.
“Don’t stress”, everyone said gently, as that painful first year of trying to conceive drew to a close. “Just relax”, they continued, as I sat babbling with desperate longing about dates, symptoms and how swollen my boobs felt.
It all got a bit awkward after a while, with every conversation revolving around ovulation tests, fertile phases and how functional sex had become for my partner and I. Luckily, my friends and family are wonderful and not one of them ever stopped listening, nodding and making all the right noises in all the right places, as the months turned to years and I slowly but surely lost the plot.
After four years and several early, but no less heart-breaking, miscarriages an unofficial diagnosis of ‘unexplained infertility’ was ours. So now what?
I’d heard about acupuncture and how it can help with fertility issues but, not being a fan of needles, I was hesitant to give it a go until a friend suggested I go and see Emma Cannon.
It was as a result of my weekly appointments with Emma that I began to physically and psychologically prepare for what I knew would be a huge step; IVF. Her “mind body” approach to fertility made total sense to me. Her calm, focused manner enabled me to begin to trust that my body could and would respond in the way I so desperately wanted it to, when it was ready. When the time was right.
But you don’t just ‘try’ IVF. You don’t just casually ‘give it a go’. Fertility treatment often comes at the end of a painfully long road with the stakes getting higher the further you travel. I knew I wanted, no, needed us to try. I felt like we’d come to the point of no return. The yearning in me to conceive and carry a second baby was so deep and primal that I honestly don’t know what could have stopped me from pushing for IVF to be our next step.
My partner was less sure. Yes, he wanted us to complete our family in the way that we’d always imagined, but he had concerns. Nevertheless, we went ahead. Grateful for financial support from family and a team at the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre in London that I’d heard were second to none. If I remember correctly, eleven eggs were collected and most of them had progressed to blastocysts by the time it came to embryo transfer. Everything was looking good but still, it was all incredibly nerve-wracking and my emotions swung between optimism and joyous excitement to utter conviction that the cycle would fail and that our (my?) dream of having one more baby would be over forever.
No one could have prepared us for what followed. When the call came through that would tell us whether or not the cycle had worked I was shaking so much that I was barely able to confirm my name and date of birth. It felt like one of those moments where time stops and everything just hangs suspended. “We’ve got a positive pregnancy result, Emma,” the nurse said warmly, and it was like I could hear the smile in her voice. The sun came out, the birds sang and the world was glorious. “You’re HCG levels are nice and high at 536 so it’s a definite positive at the moment.”
What did you say?
Five Hundred and Thirty Six??
“Isn’t that really high?” I said my heart pounding so hard I thought my chest might explode. “What does that mean? Could it be twins?”
“We can’t say at this point, but it might be there is more than one in there. You’ll have to wait for your first scan in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, can you pop back up to the clinic today?”
I was completely and utterly euphoric. I was floating, walking on air. It couldn’t be twins though. Surely not. Twins would be crazy. Nope. It won’t be twins, definitely not. Just one strong, solid, rooted single little darling who was going to stay put and be our missing piece.
Oh bless me for my naivety.
Twins it was. Twin one and twin two. Until the twenty week scan that is. Which is when our third missing piece decided to make his presence known.
Ella, Louis and Theo were born on a cold Wednesday morning in December 2009. I think we can safely say that IVF worked for us. With bells on."
You can read more of Emma’s story in her book All That Followed – A Story of Cancer, Kids and the Fear of Leaving too Soon
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