2019: An Infertile Year in Review

2019 is quickly coming to a close and with that we are turning our backs on a decade, and what a decade it has been.

Between 2010-2019, I have finished my GCSE’s and my A-Levels, gone to University and graduated with a degree in Criminology, I have passed my driving test, travelled to new places, had two operations and a round of IVF; the year ‘Amber in a Teacup’ was born. This decade has been very much defined by coming of age, turning from a girl into a woman with everything in between. I have grown up. I look back on this decade wondering where time has gone; how it only seems to have been 2 minutes since I was throwing house parties behind my parents backs, wishing for the day I was 25 – an adult on my own two feet – and now how I’d give anything to be that care-free, acne covered 15 year old all over again.

First day of school term, September 2010! The days of taking a selfie on the laptop webcam…

2019 has been a rollercoaster. I know what you’re thinking: “that’s what everyone says in their end of year Facebook statuses”, and you’re right, it is. However, when I look back at 2019, it is one I look back at with sadness, regret and love, all at the same time. As it comes to a close, I realise how much of my year has been dominated by my infertility.

I started 2019 with a bleak outlook on life. My diagnosis of ‘infertile’ was fresh and at the time, it hadn’t quite sunk it what this really meant. Christmas came and went and I had felt so sad. New year, new me was echoed across social media, and yet I started the new year not knowing who “me” really was anymore. This was a new year, new me, not through choice but through circumstance, and the first quarter of the year was spent despising this person I had become. I was angry, I was hurt and I took it out on everyone I loved. My husband was pushed to breaking point, and I had reached a point I wasn’t sure how to return from. All I knew, was that I didn’t want to be here and a life without children was not a life I was prepared to accept. I began to resent my husband – it was my body that had failed us, my Fallopian tubes that were blocked and it was all my fault. I felt like he was bound to want to leave me, why would he want to be with me if I couldn’t give him a family? I resented his positivity and I resented him telling me that having kids was second priority to being with me. In my head, he was lying, so it was easier to make him hate me and give him another reason to leave. He never did. He was telling the truth.

In March I had my Fallopian tubes removed via bilateral salpingectomy. I had both tubes removed in keyhole surgery and had my ovaries left in place to allow us to still have IVF. I had decided to have this operation, it wasn’t ever a necessity but a choice. I had spent 6 months feeling suicidal, depressed, at a level of sadness I never knew really existed, that for me, the only way forward was to remove the problem, to remove the things that kept the ‘maybe a miracle will happen’ in my head.

I spent 8 weeks in recovery, binge watching Gossip Girl (best series ever, because Chuck Bass) and eating Pringles. Whilst the circumstances were not ideal, I spent 8 weeks getting better in every sense of the word. To this day, I am certain that having that operation was the best thing I could have done. My mindset flipped and I had a sudden positive outlook on life, an end of an era and the beginning of our IVF journey. For the first time in months, I felt I had something to look forward to.

The first coffee post-op…

Fast forward to September and we started IVF. IVF had been removed from the NHS in our area and we decided to get the ball rolling as soon as that was announced. We had spent a year waiting for this decision after almost 4 years of trying to conceive, and we went full steam ahead. IVF was one of the most emotionally draining things I have ever done in my life, if not THE most. I have never felt so tired and I have never experienced a heartbreak as physically painful as I did when it failed. We had been so positive and we had hoped so hard, followed all the protocols and all the recommendations and we didn’t even make it to transfer. Our two embryos didn’t make it to my womb, and my heart broke at the realisation that once again I couldn’t provide my husband the one thing I should be able to. There was no miracle, no baby, and no positive test. We’re ending the year the way we started, childless, heartbroken and clinging onto a bit of hope that once again – this will be our year.

With our challenges came the positives, 2019 was the year my blog was born and the reason I am writing this now. I started my blog on the off chance I might help someone else, as well as a way for me to write down how I felt. For me, Amber in a Teacup has been very much a form of therapy. Since starting Amber in a Teacup, our story has been featured in the Huffington Post UK and the Peterborough Telegraph, I have been a guest on a local radio station (PCR FM) for Kristy Read on her ‘Local Heroes’ show, and finally, we were nominees in the Pride of Peterborough Awards for Family of the Year.

The support I have had since starting the blog has been amazing. It isn’t anything groundbreaking, but 3.2k people follow my blog on Instagram and I am receiving over 1000 monthly visitors to the blog. This, for me, is crazy. I have received messages from strangers thanking me for being so open – something I never, ever expected to happen. I had a stranger message me and tell me I was the reason she pushed her doctor for further testing and has finally been diagnosed with PCOS. I always said if I helped just one person feel less alone, I’d feel I had succeeded, so this is only ammunition for me keep shouting.

With that in mind, I want to thank each and every one of you who have so much as clicked on a link for something I have written, who have ever watched one of my YouTube videos, or followed me on Instagram. I have stepped so far out of my comfort zone it is unreal to do this, and if truth be told, I love it. There are no words for my gratitude.

2020 comes with a great deal of hope attached to it. We will try another round of IVF and with any luck, 2020 will be the year we become parents. 2020 is a year I have decided to use to work on myself and my mind. The deterioration in my mental health at the beginning of the year has made me incredibly aware of how little control a person can have over their mental health and at the same time, how important it is to look after it. I look back and I feel scared that one day I will be in that frame of mind again, so this year I vow to spend more time on self care and actively working on making myself happy. As much as we have hope, IVF may never work for us and so creating a life outside of having children is something I need to do.

I am excited for the year (and the decade!) ahead, and can’t wait to see what is in store for Amber in a Teacup. This is just the beginning!

Happy New Year to all of you. I hope you are blessed.

Love, Amber xx

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