Our Infertility Journey

Our journey began way back in September 2015. I can’t explain to you how magical it was. We were newly married, blissfully happy, on honeymoon and we were finally trying for a baby! A BABY! Our own little human! Part Joel and part me. It was without a doubt the best time of my life. We were both twenty-five and just knew we were ready to be parents. We’d been ready for a long time.

Time went so slowly those first few months of trying but we kept ourselves busy. In February 2016 we moved into our new house and at the time, I was late on my period. I worried because I was lifting heavy boxes and inhaling paint fumes. I didn’t want to be dramatic but I felt I was pregnant. I remember that time feeling like we’d been trying for ages. Suffice to say, I wasn’t pregnant. If only I knew back then how the long journey ahead would be.

After 6 months of trying and still no baby I stopped drinking alcohol, opted for a heathy diet and started practicing yoga and meditation every day to help me stay calm. My biggest obstacle right now was stress. I regret letting this time affect me so much. I regret not opening up to people more. I regret thinking trying for a baby was some big secret. I regret feeling so angry at anyone who was pregnant and not me. I regret staying put in a job I hated for so long in the hopes I’d “just get pregnant and go on maternity leave.” I’d find myself breaking down at work, watching TV, driving in the car… any thought or mention of a baby was really tough for me to handle at this stage. Looking back, I was really hard on myself and the mean girl in my head was starting to take over.

I had never been pregnant. No miscarriages. Nothing. My cycles either ran exactly on time (28 days) or I’d get the odd few a year that were slightly early or late by 2-3 days. Then there are certain cycles you never forget and June 2016 was the hardest of them all. I was around 10 days late on my period. I had two doctors appointments (crying hysterically in both) and several negative pregnancy tests. My Mum and I were due to go to Australia and I told her I thought I was pregnant (which was a big thing for me) because I had all the symptoms, every… single… one. Except the positive test. We’d be on a long flight and I didn’t want to keep it from her. I hoped I would be okay flying and keep the (non-existent) baby growing inside me but a few hours before we were due to leave, I came on my period. It was the cruelest moment of my life. Not only did it finally show up but it was one of the most painful, heavy ones I’d had since before I was on the pill as a teenager.

It’s hard to really explain it in words. It just feels like a physical punch in the stomach when you see blood after thinking “this could be it.” Every emotion swirled in my head. I felt as if this wasn’t my body. Like it was an invader, determined to not give me what I really wanted for so long. I was doing everything right. Everything. I wasn’t drinking alcohol or smoking. I’d never taken drugs. I was eating right. I was taking the vitamins. I’m a good person. I did everything I was supposed to. Why would my body do this to me. 

I kept thinking maybe this just wasn’t meant to be. Where would I be now if we had got pregnant in 2015? Would we be happy? Am I forcing this? I doubted everything so much. Our mantra became “we go again” and at first it gave us comfort but once we hit the 1 year milestone it lost it’s charm. We had been beaten down.

I started opening up to people a little but if anyone asked me on the spot if we were trying I would instantly say “not yet” and laugh it off. I hated myself for saying that but I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it for fear of making me upset or not wanting them to feel sorry for us. It was the loneliest time of my life. The support we got from family and friends eventually was incredible but no one close to us truly understood and I’m honestly glad they didn’t. I wouldn’t wish infertility on anyone.

Throughout 2016 I’d been to the doctors a couple of times. On the back of any other appointment I would mention to my GP that we were trying without success and like always, they just said that because of our age and the fact we’d been trying for less than a year there was apparently no need to worry. In December 2016, I saw my doctor again and pleaded with him that I be checked out. He finally agreed and I had my very first blood test a week later to check if I was ovulating. The results came back all good, which was amazing and a huge relief but my thyroid and liver then needed to be checked again. So I went back in for another blood test in January 2017. Thyroid all good but this time my liver needed checking one more time to see if it was regenerating properly, so I had to wait until April. All the while… still no pregnancy. All the symptoms every month. All the worry. The unbearable 2-week wait over and over again… but nothing.

I worried and stressed about my test results every time. I googled everything (as you do). Thankfully, my liver was clear. I should have been happy. I was completely healthy but it felt like we were back at square one. I wanted so much for there to be something wrong. I know it’s terrible to say that but it’s how I felt in my confused and heartbroken mind at the time.

Now, it was Joel’s turn. Up until this point we had both assumed it must be me. I took on a lot of the burden. This hasn’t been anyone’s fault, it’s just the assumption you make unfortunately in those early days. He was very anxious about the process of submitting his sperm for analysis but stepped up and his results came back okay, not great, just okay (count 15 million) and we were given no exact reason whatsoever why we couldn’t get pregnant by his doctor. I then had an internal ultrasound scan in September 2017 – on our 2nd wedding anniversary (sigh*) but that was all good as well. We fully became apart of the ‘Unexplained Infertility Club’ and my researching and anxiety went into overdrive.

In late 2017, we took our foot off the accelerator and gave ourselves a break from seeking help. I started a new job which kept me busy, we worked on projects around the house, had nice holidays and lots of weddings. Our lives were full and we were happy again. We even added two lovely cats to the family, which was the best thing we’ve done throughout all the heartache. We love them so much. We of course, kept trying. I learnt more about the ‘Fertility Awareness Method’ and tracked my basal body temperature (BBT) every morning. I went vegan and followed a very strict regime of vitamins. I even started having (stupidly expensive) acupuncture sessions once a week and the specialist became my therapist (whether he liked it or not). I became a walking, talking, self-taught expert on everything fertility. You name it, we tried it in 2017! We had moments of sadness, grief and anger that it still wasn’t happening but looking back, I remember feeling a little more content than in the first year.

I remember thinking at the start of 2018, “this is it, we’re going to have a baby! The odds are in our favour now!” I was very healthy, not stressed and loved my now new job. Everything was good! So I called up the GP and confirmed we were ready for our fertility treatment referral now and you know what, they may as well have laughed in my face… I was a little naive it would be THAT easy. They said that because both our tests were now out of date we’d need to do them all over again. I broke down. I couldn’t believe we’d have to go through what we went through in 2016 all over again. I’d spent a year building myself back up after all that. After more researching and realising the wait and journey would still be long, we started the process to get tested again.

It wasn’t until the June that we got the ball rolling and I had another blood test and Joel provided his second sperm analysis. The results came in and again, I was okay but Joel’s was misdiagnosed as “post-vasectomy” with a count of 10,000 and “0% motility” (the average sperm count is between 40 million and 300 million). Long story short, his sample wasn’t tested until several hours later when it should be immediately for a fertility referral. The hospital confirmed their human error and Joel was called back in for another test. In the August, Joel provided another sample and his now new correct results confirmed “sample is highly viscous (thick) – extremely low sperm concentration (count) and poor motility.” The count was 700,000. We were devastated. No more so than Joel that after all this time it was looking likely that his sperm weren’t the optimal quality and count. I mean, it wasn’t terrible and he was very unwell with extreme food poisoning in South Africa only a few months before which can affect sperm count but for right now, it was an answer (even amongst speculation) and we had to do a lot of soul searching to come to terms with this news. 

At the end of the month, we received a letter confirming our consultation at the hospital for a fertility treatment referral. The only problem was, we had to wait until October which felt like a lifetime away.

On the 15 October 2018 we finally had our initial consultation. I brought along my little notebook in preparation to tell them my cycle length, what my periods were like, my basal body temperature patterns, our health history… I was prepared to fight for some kind of fertility treatment to help us because I had heard so many stories of couples not being able to get funding on the NHS. The consultant called us in and immediatley confirmed Joel and I would need Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), a more advanced type of IVF in order to conceive a baby. She told us the likelihood of conceiving naturally was very slim and the NHS would fund us one round of ICSI and another frozen transfer (FET) should we not have success the first time (depending on if we had more than one embryo to freeze from the first cycle). So there it was, after all this time. After 3 years of trying, we were told this is going to most likely be the only way. I remember feeling so relieved but very sad at the same time.

Joel and I held each other a lot over this time in our lives. Coming to terms with your infertility is heartbreaking. You never once think that having a baby will be hard. It’s instilled in us that it’ll just happen. The amount of times we were told to “just relax”, “have more sex”, “are you sure you’re doing it right” is offensive and I know we are not alone. Relaxing has no affect on people conceiving in war torn countries and if anything, you should have less sex but at the right time in ovulation. People never understood that we tried everything for our baby and the chances for everyone are so different.

We are very different people now. Infertility changes you in ways you couldn’t imagine. I’ve learnt so much about fertility and the creation of life with science. It’s incredible what we can do. I’ve learnt mindfulness, patience, accepting the present moment and that my anger doesn’t define me.

Most of all, I learnt I already had a mother’s heart. I told myself everyday that I may not be carrying a child right now but the moment we decided to bring life into this world we were already parents. Our baby was just waiting for us. Waiting for the right time. I wonder who they will be. I dream that they will be amazing, courageous and beautiful inside and out. That they will learn everything about the world and figure out all of life’s lessons.

They are so loved already. I will cherish every moment with them. Every. Single. Moment.

We never gave up hope. We’re sharing our story now in the hopes it’ll help more people figure all this out too. We know that our years of waiting were not nearly as traumatic as many others around the world. I’m so thankful that I was physically healthy. There was no doubt in my mind I would one day carry a child. It was just how we were going to get there that we found the most difficult. Like all IVF journey’s, it wasn’t easy sailing. It was the most challenging thing we’ve ever done, not only the physical for me but the mental for us both. We knew, whatever the outcome, we were ready for this next chapter of our lives.

P.S. I anonymously wrote all about our journey on a separate Instagram account – @mother.heart.ivf – which gave me a huge amount of comfort during this time. I would recommend anyone going through a similar experience to reach out and join a community of like minded people. They are part of the process that brought me out of darkness. It’s also so lovely to look back on and see how far we’ve come.

Healthy Lifestyle Starts Now!

When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot be exerted, wealth becomes useless and reason is powerless.

I’ll start off by saying, I start a new job next Monday! ❤️ So these weekly updates have now been changed to monthly ones, as detailing what I’ve been fuelling my body with week by week is going to be a bit difficult. This post has really excited me and even though I’ll be a super busy bee, I definitely want to keep up with my new food diary and share it with the world!

I’ve mostly been nourishing my body with foods that I know are benefiting me and it feels sooooo good! Don’t get me wrong though, there was a day when I had 2 pizzas in a row… 😁 (THE SHAME!) The real key is that, I know it’s bad for me and I allow myself to feel it but then dust myself off and make improvements. I’m no longer ignorant to my unhealthy eating habits so no more, “the diet can start on Monday” – this lifestyle is NOW!

So over these past few weeks, I’ve had some pretty simple meals but very tasty!

Breakfast

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day! I can’t go a day without eating something to get me going for the rest of the morning.

I love porridge oats and created mine with Organic Rolled Oats, Almond Milk, Manuka Honey, Maca Powder or Cinnamon, Full-Fat Natural Yoghurt and Raspberries or Blueberries.

I also made a really nice savoury breakfast from Madeleine Shaw’s YouTube Channel. I made it slightly different by using a Wholemeal Pitta Bread with Cherry Tomatoes, Rocket, Spinach, Smoked Salmon and Lemon.

Then one day, I had a bowl of Cheerios (boo..! 😞) so realised I needed to satisfy my cereal cravings and created my own granola! This is another one from Madeline’s YouTube Channel! It’s made of Organic Rolled Oats, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Pecans and Cinnamon, baked for around 10 minutes (I did a bit longer for extra crunch). I eat it with Full-Fat Natural Yoghurt, Strawberries, Blackberries, Raisins and a little bit of Honey. So quite sweet but it’s a treat!

When I get to work, I’ll sometimes team my breakfast with either a Coconut Water, Decaf Earl Grey Tea, Green Tea and/or just Water.

Lunch

I’m pretty good and will not skip lunch EVER! I work in an office and realised a few years ago that I need a boost of energy to get me through an afternoon. The trick is not to get anything that makes you feel sluggish and sleepy. I’ve pretty much trained myself to be a lover of salads and if I’m super organised, I’ll have the ingredients to whip one together every morning.

My salads are pretty simple I have Rocket, Spinach, Cherry Tomatoes, Spring Onion and Cucumber. Then pop in some flavour depending on what I fancy such as Feta, Chia Seeds, Hemp Seeds, Evening Primrose Oil, Apple Cider VinegarSmoked Salmon or Ham.

I also love a soup. Quick and easy to heat in the office microwave, whilst staying healthy! There’s one I grab from a place called Rawberry in Winchester which is a Thai Carrot Soup and it’s made of Carrot, Chilli, Lemongrass and Coconut. It’s delicious!

Dinner

Dinner is always a tough one because by the time I get home, I’m shattered but want to do yoga, a workout, housework, catch up on TV, organise my life, pay bills etc etc! Then there’s also the complication of being married and your hubby perhaps not being on the same course as you that day. Usually when I would like something small, Joel’s body is calling out for steak! So compromise and time are big learning curves!

Saying that, we have actually eaten the same meals for most of this month. I made a great meal of Salmon cooked in Coconut Oil, spirulized Cucumber topped with Evening Primrose Oil and Sesame SeedsSweet Potato fries with Pink Sea Salt and Coconut Oil, Full-Fat Natural Yoghurt mixed with Smoked Paprika, Pink Sea Salt and Lemon. It’s now my specialty and we absolutely love it!

We did eat Fajitas one night but I substituted a few ingredients for a healthier version! Guacamole was switched with good ol’ mushed up Avocado, the salsa was just Cherry Tomatoes and sour cream was my favourite Full-Fat Natural Yoghurt. You could taste the difference… in a good way!

I also made some savoury muffins from… you guessed it… Madeleine Shaw’s YouTube Channel! (She’s been amazing recently!) I created them with Spring Onions, Cherry Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Spinach and Ham.

Snacks & Desserts

I usually graze on Blueberries, Apples, Oranges and/or some Dark Chocolate whilst at my desk or at home. Recently I’ve been trying to eat a pot of nuts to subside any cravings! These pots consist of Cashews, WalnutsPumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Almonds, Pecans and Raisins.

I also love to make a smoothie! My favourite at the moment consists of frozen Raspberries, Blackberries, Blueberries and Banana with Almond Milk, Maca Powder and Acai Powder. I always try and make up few frozen packs at the weekend, so that they’re ready to make in the morning as either a quick breakfast or snack.

My desserts lately have been really limited! I’ll either just have a little Dark Chocolate or a teaspoon of Manuka Honey. Need to think up some recipes!

Exercise

This is still a work-in-progress! Although I kept up a Yoga practice for 4 days in a row on week one and smaller stretches on the other days. We did a big walk around Lulworth on a Saturday that got my heart rate pumping! Meditation-wise has been a struggle but I try and squeeze one in the morning, even if it’s just 3 minutes (at least)!

So there you have it! My February Glow-ness! I’m so proud of myself! I love eating healthy and learning about the human body and mind. Food plays such a large part of that and I’m hugely grateful to have the ability and means to fill my world with clean, organic and whole foods. ♡

Hope you enjoyed! I’ll be back with an update in March!

Katie ❀

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Get The Glow

The body is your temple. Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in.

I couldn’t believe when I read that the average person in Britain consumes about 140 teaspoons of sugar per week! High sugar intake upsets our hormones, stores as fat and masks the tastes of other foods. So I’ve decided to kick the sugar habit once and for all and I’m so excited!!!

I’ve been following Madeleine Shaw’s recipes from her ‘Get The Glow’ and ‘Ready Steady Glow’ books on and off for the last few years. She’s really great at creating simple, healthy and low-sugar meals! I would definitely recommend visiting her website for inspiration and to learn more about her food philosophy.

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I’ll be writing weekly updates on the foods I’ve been nourishing my body with and why, in the hopes it’ll inspire others out there to do the same. ♡

So far, it’s been really easy with the exception of… quitting chocolate! That is proving to be the most difficult obstacle, as a self-obsessed choco lover!

I’m sure they’ll be good weeks and bad weeks but I want to document this journey truthfully and prove to myself I have what it takes to turn this into my new lifestyle! Let’s see how I get on!

Katie ❀

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Merry Christmas!

The day is finally here! Be sure to eat lots of mince pies, play games, drink and be merry!

I hope you enjoyed my very first Blogmas posts! The daily ones kind of fizzled out towards the end as I ended up being a super busy bee! 🐝 But for the ones I did create, I know I’m going to love looking back on over the years!

I’ll be off for a few days now to enjoy my Christmas break with the family.

Wishing you all a beautiful and magical day! 💖

Katie ❀

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My Dream Christmas

I came across the featured photo the other day on Pinterest and thought “Woah, that’s so pretty! Can you have a pink Christmas theme and it not look tacky?!” Well in my opinion, the answer is now… yes!

If I had a choice, I would love our house to look like these photos over Christmas! Alas, I’m married and compromise is kind of a big deal. Guess it will just have to stay a pretty dream for now. 🌸

Katie ❀

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Winter Favourites

I’ll be sure to bring back monthly favourites in 2017 as they’re so much fun to write! It’s really nice take a moment and appreciate the things you’ve purchased over the month, as well as note the little things and people that have brought some happiness.

Here are some things I’ve loved this Winter so far.

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Breathe Magazine
This is a fantastic magazine. It’s full of wonderful articles on mindfulness, wellbeing, living, creativity and escapism. It’s a very new publication which started a few months ago (they have only just released the 3rd issue). It’s a bit pricey at £5.99 per magazine but it’s full of so much goodness. When you read through the pages you can instantly tell so much time and effort has gone into creating a fully informed, creative and beautiful magazine. There are creativity pages for relaxation or to simply learn a new skill i.e origami or letter writing. In all 3 issues so far they have provided a little notebook like a gratitude journal and colouring book. There’s how to’s on organisation, how to stay present at work, music to listen to, healthy recipes and real life stories to manifest change for you! I can’t rave about this magazine enough. I don’t buy any others now! Whenever I feel lost or sad but don’t want to delve into a book, I head straight for my Breathe magazine collection, pick out one and turn the page at random to find exactly what I’m looking for.

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Westworld
I absolutely loved the first series of Westworld but will admit, it was so confusing! I didn’t know what was going on half the time but the last three episodes made up for it massively. I think it’s great how they delved straight into the idea of what it means to be human and have consciousness. It’s full of shocks, twists and turns you don’t see coming. If you were on the fence about it, I would highly recommend watching for sure. Now I know how this series ends, there are clues that apparently were hiding in plain sight so I will be having a second viewing in the new year. We have time… the next series won’t be out until 2018!

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The Universe Has Your Back
I recently signed back up to FMTV and one of its founders posted this book as a must-read. In my time off, I thought “well why not?!” and purchased it in a bid to really try anything to get me out of my current funk. My faith and beliefs have recently been very important to me. I’m open to spirituality but am determined to find my own path, my own way and not be influenced. So the sceptic in me went into full gear when I read the first few pages of Gabrielle Bernstein’s book… I set it aside and didn’t pick it back up for a few days. I then had a night to myself and was drawn to it again and set an intention to read more this time… I did and now I can’t put it down! It’s all about opening yourself up to the Universe and knowing that it has your back (clue is in the title!) Fear is a main driving force in everything you do but you can choose how to perceive every situation in your life and I now choose to see the positive and be very self-aware of when negativity sets in.

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Rachel Brathen aka Yoga Girl
I am loving Rachel lately more than ever! I mean I’ve loved her for well over a year now but this Winter she has been up to so much! She is expecting a little baby girl in February; I love her pregnancy yoga routines and candid Instagram posts on how impending motherhood is so scary but incredibly exciting. She’s raw and intimate in so many ways, it’s beautiful to witness. Not only is she creating life but her and her husband have also been developing a brand new yoga studio in Aruba, travelled around the world to teach yoga to thousands of people and take care of many non-profit charities. I mean… she’s an amazing business woman! Where does she find the time?! She’s my inspiration and her mantra “Yoga Every Damn Day” rings in my ears whenever I step on to my mat! 

Not many actual items have come into my life worth discussing these past few months but I can’t wait to do my ‘What I Got For Christmas’ post again this year! Not long to go now!

Katie ❀

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Christmas Tag | Part 2

What is your all-time favorite holiday food/sweet treat?
That is a tough choice! I love Mince Pies or Christmas Cake or Pudding… then what about After Eights, Cheese and Grapes… I can’t pick a favourite!

Be honest: do you like giving gifts or receiving gifts better?
Honestly… receiving them! I KNOW THAT SOUNDS SO BAD but honestly my family knows I’m terrible at buying presents. I’m really trying to get better!

What is the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?
Ooooo this is a real tough one. I’ve been really lucky my whole life with so many special gifts. My parents got me a telescope once and I LOVED it and I remember one year me and my sister got a new Playstation and that was epic but truthfully… I’m just looking back on old photos and the greatest Christmas gifts are the memories made with my family. The presents will fade and deteriorate but the videos and photos live on forever.

Are you a pro-present wrapper, or do you fail miserably?
I absolutely fail miserably at wrapping. I’m hopeless!

Most memorable Holiday moment?
I have so many as they’re all on tape somewhere but my favourite moments were waking up on Christmas morning, our stockings being full but not waking all night and presents being right there! It was absolutely magical!

What made you realize the truth about Santa?
The sad moment is all caught on video. I think I was about 10 years old when I kind of had an inkling he wasn’t real but always denied that he couldn’t be. (My parents played the game so well for so long!) One morning, there was a toy Father Christmas attached to a piece of string in my stocking and I was curious what to do with him and then my Dad went “look you go like this” and bounced him and he started singing or something like that. I then looked at him and thought… “how could you know that…?!” It hit me. You literally see the cogs going in my brain. I wasn’t sad though, just more like… “wow, after all this time”. I sooooo miss that magic! I’d give anything to go back for just one more Christmas morning.

Do you make New Years resolutions? Do you stick to them?
Yes! I write them every year and I think I do pretty well. I ticked off most from 2016 and it’s so satisfying. I can’t wait to let you all know mine for 2017!

Katie ❀

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