March 3, 2014

Struggling to Conceive

Filed under: Uncategorized — by birthingmamas @ 9:00 pm

I wrote in my blog post here how ambivalent I was about becoming a parent when pregnant for the first time.  It was never a huge desire of mine to have children (I considered myself more of a dog person!). I was worried throughout my first pregnancy how I would adapt to motherhood. I was scared I would not like or that I would not be able to love a child enough or that I would not have a clue what to actually do. Before I had my daughter I had never even held a newborn baby, so how would I know how to mother one? What did being a mother even mean? I had the usual fears as well, that I would imagine many women have, regarding how parenthood would change my life and how I would manage and deal with those changes.

Thankfully I love being a mother (most days anyway!). It came as a huge surprise to me (and to many other friends and family), how much I love it. I took to it from the minute Sadbh was born. Parenting can be intense and tough and like nothing I have ever imagined and there are days I think – what did I do!!! But after Sadbh was born, for the first time ever, I knew why so many people adored babies. I loved how soft my baby was, how her head smelt, the warmth of her cuddled beside me as we mastered breastfeeding.  I could not believe how much love I felt for her and how much that love grew and grew as I settled into my new role. This was despite sleepless nights and complete exhaustion (the term ‘sleeps like a baby’ makes me laugh in hysterics now when I think back to those days!!!). After a few months parenting Sadbh I was longing for another baby. I wanted to experience pregnancy, birth and motherhood again, but this time with the knowledge of what it meant to be a mother.

It had taken us over a year to conceive first time round, so I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant immediately. I was also breastfeeding my daughter on demand so it took abut 18 months for my periods to return (and I didn’t mind that at all). I was hoping that I would get pregnant quicker this time since my body perhaps knew what to do now.  However it didn’t happen like that, and in the end it  took me over 2 years to get pregnant for the second time. Two years of charting, trying to figure out my cycle to see when I was ovulating, trying to take my temperature (but never really getting to do.  For it to be accurate you were supposed to have been asleep for 3 consecutive hours beforehand and since I had a child who fed regularly throughout the night and woke up constantly I could never get this window of uninterrupted sleep). I used the charting sheets in Taking Charge of Your Fertility to record my cycle and I would recommend this book for any woman who is menstruating, whether or not they are trying to conceive. As Toni Weschler argues: ‘…Fertility Awareness is a comprehensive means of allowing women to finally take control of all aspects of their cycles, from natural birth control and pregnancy achievement to PMS, premenopause, and basic gynecological health.’ (p. 419, TCOYF).

I went for acupuncture on a regular basis, as well as taking homeopathy and herbs to help my body in any way I could. I read Zita West’s book ‘Guide to Getting Pregnant’ as well as listened to her preconception CD on a regular basis.

Two years is probably a drop in the ocean for many couples on the trying to conceive track – but it seemed like an eternity to me. When I was trying to conceive for the first time I didn’t really feel under pressure. My fear of motherhood tempered this. As I was so unsure if I wanted a child, myself and my husband were very much ready to let fate take its course and see if we got pregnant or not.

This time round, however, my ambivalence was gone. I wanted another child with every pore of my being. My heart ached when a friend would tell me they were expecting – and this happened a lot as most of my friends that I had met through my first child were now having their second. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for them as well, but there was also a touch of sadness that I was still not pregnant. I would then feel guilty for feeling sad as I knew I was lucky enough to at least have a child. I was frustrated that for me I could just not get pregnant while some women I knew seemed to be able to conceive so easily.

I had a number of friends that were struggling to concieve their first. But I had never had that longing trying for my first child, or that despair I would now feel month after month as my period arrived and my hope disappeared.  Time was ticking for me, I was now creeping into my late 30s and feeling slightly desperate. I really wanted the chance to be a mother again. To experience pregnancy this time knowing what it meant to be a mother, to understand what it meant to grow a baby inside me. It was consuming me – every month hoping and waiting, then dealing with the disappointment. I was worried it would never happen, that I was too late.

I thought perhaps breastfeeding my daughter may have been affecting my fertility. A lot of the advice I received from health care professionals and complementary therapists was that I should stop breastfeeding. However my daughter was very attached to breastfeeding. She really needed it – she was a Velcro baby and toddler and also highly sensitive, so breastfeeding soothed and calmed her and I was reluctant to stop in case it wasn’t the reason I could not get pregnant and then I was cutting short our breastfeeding relationship for nothing.

Eventually in early September 2009 I went to a fantastic homeopath in Midleton who gave me a remedy. A few days after the remedy Sadbh stopped night feeding. Since she had been a newborn baby she had never slept through the night. We had gone away on holidays with my Mam and my parents in law to holiday cottages in Waterford. Up to this point Sadbh had never gone to sleep without breastfeeding. Myself and David had gone to the cinema (I still remember the film – 500 Days of Summer, it was brilliant), and when we got back Sadbh was asleep. She had fallen asleep with my Mam. I couldn’t believe it. The next evening my mother in law got her to sleep. Both nights she slept through. I was completely shocked and afraid to believe this might be it. My 3 and half year old might be night weaned. And it had been easy! But it was. From that date on she fell asleep without breastfeeding and stayed asleep for the night. We continued to co-sleep with her as we had done from her birth, but we all finally slept. It was heaven. Even better – a few weeks later I got a big fat positive. I was finally pregnant.

Big Fat Positive

Big Fat Positive

Photo Credit

Maybe it was a coincidence. And I have no evidence. But but but, it seems like SUCH a coincidence, that when my daughter night weaned, I got pregnant. What do you think? I know breastfeeding at night does not necessarily affect most women’s ability to concieve (most of the friends mentioned above who had gotton pregnant were feeding at night when it happened), but I perhaps was one of those women who were affected.

I was over the moon to be pregnant. I was so excited that our frustrating journey of trying to conceive was over and I was sooooo thrilled I would not have to chart anymore. Of course, that wasn’t the end of it…but more of that in another post for another day!!!


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