At the age of 20, I was diagnosed with Secondary Amenorrhea – the absence of periods for unknown reasons after having them normally for many years. After some investigations, I was informed these would be likely to return at some stage during my early 20’s and there was no cause for concern. Being so young and having minimal responsibilities, the thought of children had not really crossed my mind at that stage and, therefore, I continued life with the reassurance that one day everything would resume as it was meant to.
At the age of 24, having still had no signs of a normal cycle, I went back to my GP for further investigations as to why things hadn’t returned to normal. This included blood tests, and seeing a gynaecologist for internal examinations, but still there was absolutely no label for my mystery condition. I waited for several more months, before returning to my GP for further answers as I was experiencing bed sweats at night that were unexplained.
Following this discussion, I was informed I may be going through the stages of early menopause. Being told this at just 24 and starting to think more about a family in the not-so-distant future was devastating to hear. I remember thinking constantly ‘Why me?’, ‘How could life be so cruel?’ and ‘How do I even begin to explain this to my partner?!’
I remember leaving the GP surgery that day feeling like I’d been crushed. I didn’t want to reach out to my partner or anyone else in the fear it would become real if I said it out loud. If I just kept it to myself the world would go on as it had been. After some time that day, I called my good friend to chat things over with her as I needed someone detached from the situation to off-load my thoughts onto. She was amazing, and kept me focused until I got my results.
The results confirmed this wasn’t actually the case, however, I was anxious as we still had some way to go. From this point, everything seems quite a blur in terms of my journey in trying to strive for a diagnosis or resolution. I had blood test after blood test, multiple ultra sounds, tests for thyroid issues, diabetes and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and a Hysterosalpingogram (the most uncomfortable procedure I’ve ever experienced) to check the health of my fallopian tubes – all of which came back with ‘normal’ results.
In January 2020, we began investigations with a fertility consultant but unfortunately with the arrival of COVID in March, this was paused until late summer with little to no contact from the NHS being made during that time. This set back was another big knock to us mentally, as it finally felt like we were starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Although it was only months, the days felt like weeks, weeks like months and months like years.
In August 2020, I was finally given a diagnosis – I had a rare issue with my Luteinizing Hormone levels which prevents ovulation, and in turn, periods from happening. I was told there was practically no chance of me having children naturally and that it was unlikely to correct itself.
The emotions, and mostly sorrow, I felt during that moment for my husband, rather than myself were overwhelming. When you are on a fertility journey as a couple, it’s really hard to manage your emotions and think about yourself when you believe you are also responsible for someone else’s dreams crumbling. The pressure you feel to deliver on something that isn’t within your capability is immense. My priority had always been ensuring my husband felt okay, and helping him process his feelings before I even addressed my own.
The treatment options we were given were minimal due to my condition. We discussed Clomid, something I always thought might be open to us, however with my diagnosis, this wasn’t viable. Instead, the consultant wanted to give me elements of the IVF process i.e. daily injections of Menopur and weekly scans to see how I reacted to the treatment. Although frightened I knew I’d do anything to give us a chance.
The treatment felt long and gruelling and my partner was left feeling so helpless. Whereas, I was left feeling fatigued, anxious, spotty, bruised and uncomfortable but all symptoms I was willing to put up with in order to get the result I so desperately wanted. During treatment we decided to only tell my mum, sister and close friend about trying to get pregnant this way. The subject wasn’t something that a lot of people spoke about and although I don’t know why, we adopted this approach and chose to remain silent. Looking back, I think the potential judgement from others was probably a contributing factor as to why we didn’t talk about it. I felt like I had failed at doing something that biologically I was expected to be able to do and knew of nobody my age with my condition or who had been open about going through a similar experience.
I remember trying to look for others with my condition through forums, in the hope I could connect with someone and find positivity in their story. I didn’t have much luck, but I kept as positive as I could, only focusing on the next stages of our treatment and not predicting the distant future.
After the first week of injections, I went for my first scan to see how I had taken to the treatment. It wasn’t the result I had hoped for and minimal difference had been made. I tried not to get too disheartened, but when you’re pinning all of your hopes onto a result it’s so hard not to. We upped my dosage after two weeks of treatment, in the hope I might get a better reaction, and the following week we had a brilliant result. Two mature follicles on one ovary, and another one maturing nicely on the other. Five days later I had to go back for an additional scan, and boom it was time to trigger, and then, wait the dreaded two-weeks before I could do a test. Those two weeks were the worst. I was reading into every little symptom I had, hoping that it was a sign – was I feeling sick? Was I having a headache?!
At last the time had come to test – another nerve racking wait. I decided to do it alone to prepare myself for any negative result before having to relay this to my husband. It was negative – I just felt drained. I know it had only been a month of treatment but it felt like so much effort and emotion had gone into those weeks for little return. I called my husband and the fertility centre to let them know the result and that I would need to prep for my next cycle.
The following day I felt unwell. Very unlike me, as I never normally suffered from dizziness or nausea. I felt like my body was teasing me for something I so badly wanted but didn’t have. I pushed it to the back of my mind and carried on working. After several days of feeling like this I decided to do another test, just to confirm what I had already seen that week. A faint blue line came and then went again. What did this mean?! It felt like another unclear message. I rang the fertility centre and explained what I’d seen and how I’d been feeling. They asked me to wait another few days and take the test again.
Sunday came and at last we could get some clarity. It came back with a clear ‘pregnant’ on the screen.
You spend so long pre-empting the worst-case scenarios you don’t actually think about how you’ll feel if it comes back positive. I couldn’t believe it – me and my body had actually done it! I called my husband at work and told him in complete disbelief. We celebrated that night with pizza and massive smiles on our faces. I was going to be a mum! Something I had protected myself from thinking about for so long.
We had our first scan at eight weeks to see how the baby was developing. A mixture of nerves and excitement joined us that day. That’s something I’ve tried to consciously let go of now. Not to be overwhelmed by fear through what should be one of the best times of your life. We had a very healthy heartbeat from a very small, but perfect baby. Sadly, we also had a twin who didn’t make it through those early weeks, but we couldn’t be more grateful for our little miracle fighting on.
At the time of writing this, I’m now 26 weeks pregnant and growing nicely with each week that passes. Every movement brings so much joy, and I truly cannot wait for our little addition to arrive in August.