“There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire it will not seem the same; for I shall not be the same.” – Frodo Baggins
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.— Gandalf.
Deciding to join the millions of others typing their thoughts and journey’s behind a screen was not something I ever saw myself doing. However, some journeys are worth sharing – if only so that others who walk the same path can find comfort in familiarity.
I chose to align these writings with my home, Middle Earth to liken our journey to the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings…in a way. These journey’s are never clear with pre-determined paths to take. There are many mountains, long days and long nights and many dangerous encounters. There are life-changing decisions to make, there are moments where you lose your way….when you lose your sanity. There are the Fellowship who join you on your journey and try to support you in their own ways each with a different personality. There is the Samwise to my Frodo, my amazing husband, who is your voice of reason and who walks beside you not out of necessity, but because they simply want to be there. In the end, you aren’t who you were when you left. But that’s ok. Journey’s are made to change you.
Our journey (and I specifically use the word “our” as a lot of writings surrounding pregnancy are squarely focused on women – sometimes this is negative attention, sometimes it discounts the fact that our partners are a part of this too) has already presented us with a number of challenges.
We have always wanted a child to share our bubble with. The decision to go on this journey together is not as simple as walking out the door and saying “You know what? I think we shall have a child” (well it wasn’t for me anyway!). Being in the medical field and working in Paediatrics presents you with a day that often involved 100% of what goes wrong (both with little ones and their mothers) which doesn’t always provide you with a rose tinted view of pregnancy, birth or having children. It takes a lot to remind yourself that this is a small percentage of all those who have what is classed as a ‘normal’ experience. Normal being a word I dislike – purely because normal can be ANYTHING (which will become more clear with our experiences so far). Having established finances, and achieving what you want with your career as woman is a lot more of a necessity these days than when my parents were young. I guess the changes you experience once you have a responsibility for a younger human being mean that you need to feel like you can tick a few things off before you feel “ready” or “prepared”? In reflection, what this really means is that sometimes it is better to find out who you are as a person and walk your own path for a bit before you decide to veer in another direction. That was something both my husband and I had to do (in our own ways).
We started the long journey from the Shire (our bubble) over 12 months ago now. We had no idea how long we would be on the road before we conceived and whether that was even going to be possible. I am 36 years old, so if you are like me…. DON’T GOOGLE….all you will see is how old you are, how your body is starting to fail you and how unfit you are to consider taking this journey so late in your life. It sows the seeds in your mind already that anything you encounter that blocks your path is likely your fault and yours alone. The “35” age issue was created in the absence of tests that can now determine genetic abnormalities between 10 – 12 weeks gestation, as well as a battery of fertility tests that even the most bouncy twenty-somethings can be told devastating news of their infertility/early menopause and other complications. There is also a strong possibility that the problem lies with your significant other – though that is never the first reason to cross your mind.
We had been trying for the standard 6 months with no luck before my GP ordered the battery of fertility tests. You see, if you are over 35 they give you 6 months before suggesting you take these tests to find out whether there is an issue with you conceiving. Now, bear in mind that my husband and I are extremely pragmatic people and therefore would prefer to know if something is going on. So the tests begin…..
Bloods…. SO MANY BLOOD TESTS! I had my hormones tested, my immunity and resistance to chicken pox, rubella and many other diseases, my iron levels, thyroid function, FSH and LH (follicle stimulating hormone and leuteinising hormone which are involved in ovulation, egg quality and production). You need blood tests pre-ovulation, post ovulation and two days after your period finishes. You have ultrasounds…. both external and internal (which is about as pleasant as it sounds) as well as updated pap smears and general health checks. All the while your friendly medical team saying “don’t stress, stress makes things ten times worse… just relax and don’t worry” – while you are being poked and prodded and tested within an inch of your life. Don’t forget… you are still over 35 and still feeling responsible.
My husband also had tests. Just basic bloods (which aren’t necessary but he already had had some done a couple of weeks prior for being under the weather so bonus there! He had a sperm count and quality test (which is likely a lot less traumatic than an internal ultrasound!). Already you feel like the weighting on you, as a woman, is massively disproportionate. You almost resent men for not having to share in your testing trauma.
As for the results, well my tests came back all within normal limits with no signs of any major issue surrounding my fertility or ability to conceive. My husbands first test came back with low count and high morphology – this can be due to a poor sample but his general health, mental health and other factors can also influence this. A second test revealed normal count and morphology – so we were given the initial ‘all clear’.
Two days after receiving our final results….. we got our first BFP (big fat positive for those not trained in pregnant women google forum speak)….. We had arrived at our first stop. But is it Rivendell… or Weathertop where we will be confronted with Nazgul? Fun fact – it took Frodo and Samwise approximately 6 months to get to Mt Doom… it took us just about the same amount of time to conceive… was this the end of the journey…. or just the beginning?