It was 2012 and I’d just found out my 4th IVF had failed. I had almost 10 years of fertility failures behind me and I’d spent thousands on medical treatments. You name the fertility drug and I’d been on it. Natural treatments…. I’d tried them all. Everything from drinking Chinese herbs to wearing crystals. Nothing had worked. And to top it all my 40th birthday was only a month away.
To say I was in a dark place was an understatement. Yet again, they couldn’t find anything wrong with me. We’d spent another £6,000 and all we had to show for it was a bruised tummy and a single blue line.
If someone told me then that by the end of that year, I would be pregnant with triplets I would have choked on my herbal tea. I had no idea what was around the corner. They say it’s always darkest before the dawn and in my case that really was true. What I learnt in the next 6 months changed everything, and it’s the reason why I now work as a Fertility Coach, supporting women on their journey to get pregnant.
I started trying for children when I was 29. I was married but deep down I knew it wasn’t to the right person. I was desperate to get pregnant, so I pushed all the marriage issues to the back of my mind, hoping that a baby would fix them all. But the baby never came. And the marriage (of course) didn’t survive the stress of our journey. It was devastating at the time, but I look back now and I’m so grateful I didn’t get pregnant. Sadly, husband number one wasn’t ‘the’ one and my life would have been very different if I’d had that baby.
I had a couple of years on my own. I was enjoying life and I threw myself into work. My career took off and I bought a house. Amazing how good stuff starts to snowball when you’re happy. The only thing missing was a man! I was 35 and in the back of my head, I could hear that clock ticking away again. Online dating was just taking off and as I never seemed to meet anyone, I decided to give it a go. I did kiss a few frogs but then met my husband Rob (thank you Match.com). It honestly was love at first sight. We had moved in and got engaged within 3 months. Life was great. We worked hard and played hard and had some amazing holidays. Looking back now it was such a special time.
We both wanted a family and being aware of my history we decided to delay our wedding to get on with the baby bit. Surely this time things would be different? There was nothing wrong with me after all. So, we set about ‘trying’ with renewed enthusiasm but sadly it wasn’t to be and very soon I was back on that familiar road.
Once again, they couldn’t find anything wrong with us. That was so frustrating in itself! I am a fixer. I like to fix problems and make things happen. This little problem was completely out of my control, or so I thought. They did find a few cysts on my ovaries, so I went on medication for a while and had my cycle monitored. But all that showed was that I was ovulating perfectly and had a healthy womb…. brilliant! So why wasn’t it working??
It was with a heavy heart that we embarked on the IVF route. It wasn’t an easy decision for me. I’ve always been a very holistic person and to take all those drugs was just against my principles. I know from my coaching now that a lot of women struggle with this. They feel they are forcing something that’s not meant to be, and they worry about the affect of all the drugs on their body. But it wasn’t so bad. I told myself that it would be worth it and in the big scheme of things it wasn’t for very long. There would be plenty of time for a detox later.
The first IVF didn’t work. That’s common apparently. The second one worked!!! I was pregnant!! We couldn’t believe it!!! We were on a complete high, only to come crashing back down at the 6-week scan when we discovered the baby hadn’t made it.
I went into the third one with great enthusiasm – surely this one was going to work? We were just unlucky last time! But it didn’t. And once again there was no explanation.
Then we took a break. We wanted to do something positive. Let’s have that wedding we thought! We arranged the whole thing in 3 months and had a beautiful winter wedding and a honeymoon in the Maldives. It was perfect – the happiest day of my life. I even forgot about getting pregnant for at least a day ☺
We floated back from the honeymoon and I went into the 4th IVF thinking this must be it. I couldn’t be any happier. I was super relaxed after the honeymoon, and we’d renovated our new house. It was the perfect time for the baby to arrive. But no, who was I kidding. I clearly didn’t deserve that happy ending. The 4th IVF failed and that was when I had my meltdown.
I couldn’t cope anymore. My 40th birthday was around the corner. I felt like everyone I knew had got pregnant except me. I was fed up of being positive and pretending everything was fine. I found it impossible to juggle IVF with my career and I was mentally exhausted from it all. Worst of all I was becoming terrified of a future without children.
So, I packed in my job. I didn’t have a plan I just knew something had to change. We had worked out I could take the summer off and that’s what I did. I focused on our new house and I spent a lot of time sorting the garden out. It was just what the doctor ordered.
One day I stumbled across some of my old self-help books. One book in particular, ‘The Secret’, really made me think about my mindset. I realised that although I thought I was being positive, I wasn’t. On the outside, I was doing everything I could to try and get pregnant and putting a brave face on to the world. But inside I was full of worry. I worried about treatments not working, about a future without children, or why I couldn’t get pregnant. I realised I couldn’t control this thinking! I was consumed with worry and I had forgotten about all the good stuff in my life.
My head was completely out of sync with my heart. Not surprising as the journey had taken its toll and all these feelings were bottled up. I did some more research and realised the impact this was having. Have you ever tried to achieve something when your heart’s not in it? Or when you’re worrying about the outcome or feeling anxious? It’s not easy.
Over the next few weeks I worked on some easy techniques to change my mindset. Very soon I was feeling better. I was enjoying my life again and feeling grateful for what I did have. I managed to let go of the fertility worry and boy did it make a difference. Finally, I was allowing myself to think about the future we had been dreaming of and get just a little bit excited.
I don’t think it was any coincidence that a few months later we embarked on one last IVF and it worked. I was 40 and we put 2 embryos back in. Can you imagine our shock when not only did it work, but one of the embryos split into 2, giving us triplets?
From that point on, everything just went right. The pregnancy was great, the babies cooked nicely and at 35 weeks I gave birth to 3 healthy babies – 2 boys and a girl.
It was crazy at the beginning. Not just getting used to being a Mum but dealing with triplets! But we managed it. And now 6 years later we feel so blessed to have our 3 little miracles, and our happy family.
I never forgot what I went through, and I was always passionate about helping others going through it. I decided to train as a Coach and specialise in Fertility Coaching. I wanted to give women the support I felt I never had. I now work with women on the same journey as me – sharing what helped me and supporting them emotionally.
This journey has taught me a lot of things. I’ll never forget how unfair it all felt, but I’ve come to realise that everyone has their challenges in life – they just might not be fertility ones! I’ve also realised that resilience is one of the biggest qualities you need on this journey. Being able to pick yourself up after disappointments is incredibly tough but so important.
Once I got my babies the pain of our journey did fade but looking back now I’m grateful for the path it’s put me on. I really do believe that in the end, things happen just at the right time.
Lisa Ashworth offers Fertility Coaching to women trying to get pregnant Fertilitycoachingforyou.com