Asking The Hard Questions When Trying To Conceive
Holidays are wonderful. You don't have to wake up to the whining of an alarm clock, you can eat chocolate for breakfast and the normal routine gets swapped for spontaneity and fun.
It also gives you time – too much time, perhaps – to reflect, contemplate and think.
My partner and I haven't been away for a holiday since January last year, the same month we started trying for a baby. That was 13 months ago. It doesn't sound that long, but in terms of trying to conceive, it is an eternity. It has been 13 months of planning, anticipating, hoping and disappointment.
I really believed it would have happened by now.
February was the last month of trying before I have a laparoscopy, and I was desperately hoping that between the timing and the relaxing that maybe, just maybe, I wouldn't need to have the procedure done.
Maybe we would come home with wonderful news.
But I have gotten to know my cycle so well that looking at my temperature chart last week I knew it wasn't going to happen.
We were staying on the Gold Coast, which is geared towards families, and no matter how much I tried not to think about it, it was virtually impossible not to feel broody.
"I can't wait to have a little bug (the nickname of our yet-to-be conceived child) to build sandcastles with," my partner, Justin, said as we soaked up the sun.
I sat up and saw a dad and his little boy building a sandcastle together. It was such a sweet, special moment between father and child.
I’m not sure how to explain what I felt, but it was almost like the heartache of all these months snowballed into a spectacular avalanche of pain, almost physical, right in the guts.
I felt sad for myself, but I felt like I’m letting Justin down too. This isn't just my dream – it’s his, too.
I tried to breathe through it, but it dawned on me, in full force, that maybe this just isn't going to happen for us.
I am not scared of the laparoscopy itself anymore. I’m not worried about being put to sleep or if it will be painful.
I’m worried about what they will find, what the final verdict will be.
My Fallopian tubes might be scrambled, or there could be scar tissue, or damage from the ruptured cyst.
Knowing one way or the other will be a relief and I am aware that there might be nothing at all, but I know that whatever comes out of this, Justin and I are going to have to make some big decisions.
We’ve spoken about it before, but this time I need him to listen to my question and understand its implications.
If the doctor finds something really wrong and I’m not able to conceive naturally, what would that mean for us?
My insecurity could be summed up in one sentence: will my husband still love me and want to be with me if I’m not able to conceive?
Yes, there are options – IUI, IVF, ICSI, the list is endless – but where would we draw the line? How many rounds of IVF would we be prepared to do? Emotionally, financially, spiritually ... at what point would we call it quits, to accept we’re not going to be able to be parents and move on with our lives? Would we start treatment with all the hope in the world, like we did when we first started trying, only to be left heartbroken and childless years down the track?
It might seem like jumping the gun to have this conversation now, but I would rather we talked out the hard bits now than wait and do it when we’re so depleted that we have nothing left for ourselves, let alone each other.
So many people have tried to prop me up with hope. I appreciate the support and encouragement, but I’m now at the stage where I’m battling to just smile and keep my chin up.
Generally I’m good at finding perspective, but I need answers. I need a clear direction and realistic expectations. If I’m 29 or 49, it makes no difference if the egg can't get to where it needs to go. All the hope in the world won't help me.
I think this is a conversation we’ll end up having regularly as we move forward. For now, Justin is adamant that he and I are a family, and that if we can’t have our own biological child, we’ll find another way to fulfil our dream.
His love, devotion and support is so humbling. The hormonal ups and downs are hard enough for me to handle, but he stays steady and settles the doubts when they rear their ugly heads.
"I know it will happen," he keeps saying. I’m not feeling as confident as he is, but I really do hope he gets to build sandcastles with our own little one, one day.