Watching Nicole Kidman talk about her struggles with fertility on 60 Minutes a couple of weeks ago it occurred to me that the subject of fertility is one that transcends race, religion, wealth and Oscar nominations. It's the great leveller, something that women everywhere are confronting, the only difference being how each woman attempts to solve her infertility. (This is where wealth and Oscar nominations come in handy because the ultimate fertility solutions generally involve dollars. Lots and lots of dollars, but that's a whole other story!)
I've been following the fertility excursion of Emily-Jade O'Keeffe (EJ prefers 'excursions' to 'journeys' because they sound more like the fun rides up the back of the bus on school trips and less like something from Idol!). If you are struggling on your own fertility 'excursion', I strongly recommend you read this post by Emily. Apart from being written with her usual warm, witty and slightly irreverent style, Emily has written a form guide for how she intends to tackle this baby making business.
As a girl who lives her life by lists, I find this approach appealing and I'm REALLY REALLY glad she has decided to put a plan in place. I wish I had have done the same thing years ago instead of waiting until it was nearly too late.
You see, the thing about infertility is that it kind of creeps up on you. You start with the mindset that there is nothing wrong with you and that you'll fall pregnant easily. Because you're a woman with a uterus and a good grasp of how babies are conceived and people have been doing it for millennia and what could possibly go wrong? Right?
After trying for a few months, you start to wonder why it isn't happening and google 'conception' to find out if there are any little tips or tricks you could be trying. This is where it can get confusing. One website tells you to raise your hips up on a pillow for half an hour after having sex to let gravity help the little swimmers on their way, but another website warns against raising your hips too high because the sperm can 'pool' behind the cervix and not make their way in at all!
The mental image of a 'sperm pool' doesn't help either (I'm thinking of all the little blokes cruising up to the wet bar and staying put for a few mucus mojitos instead of getting their tadpole arses up to the uterus and getting down to work. It's a business trip fellas, not a holiday junket!)
The thing is, it's all very well to try the diets, herbs, acupuncture, timed sex and all the other natural conception methods going around but if you are over 30 and it hasn't happened within 6 to 12 months, then get yourself on the medical highway pronto*. And if you're closer to 40, run don't walk to your nearest baby doctor because in the great ovulation lottery, the last supplementary ball is about to drop.
And that doesn't have to be IVF immediately (although at 41 I decided to bypass Fleet Street and go straight to Little Feet Street without passing GO or collecting $200!); your excursion might start with something as simple as an ovulation predictor kit, or a drug like Clomid to stimulate ovulation. Or perhaps your plumbing needs unblocking or a bit of uterine spring cleaning is the only thing standing between you and a sudden craving for anchovy milkshakes.
In fact there are a few treatments you can put on your fertility to-do list before you hit the big guns of artificial insemination and IVF.
The thing is, you need to start. If you want a baby and it's not happening, don't wait too long to do something about it. Just the very act of taking control and booking an appointment is empowering and exciting.
Sitting on the sidelines watching the growing bellies of pregnant friends (and, it seems, every second woman on the street!), genuinely wishing them well and outwardly smiling, but inwardly drowning in self-doubt and guilt-ridden envy and wondering why it isn't happening easily for you, is NOT the way you want to live your life. Taking positive action - any action - towards your goal is the best remedy. At least it was for me.
I love this quote by Mark Twain . . .
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.How very true.
Except in the case of pregnant pole dancing - I'm fairly confident I won't be disappointed in 20 years that I didn't explore that particular harbour :) But I'm so glad Christina Applegate did cos boy does this make me laugh. Enjoy . . . (and then go write that list!)