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By Angeline Shirley

I started feeling a little guilty sharing my story right from the beginning as I have not always struggled with infertility. It has however not been an easy journey and I feel it is a story that I should share.

My journey began 5 years ago when my husband and I started trying for a family. Within the first month of trying we were already pregnant (yip one of those couples you end up resenting!) and after an easy and stress free pregnancy our little man Jake was born. We started trying for number 2 when Jake one and a half and within 5 months we were pregnant again. This falling pregnant debacle all seemed so easy and straight forward!

The day of our 12 week scan we excitedly got our Facebook pregnancy announcement ready (a picture of Jake being booted out his cot to make room for another)…however all didn’t go according to plan and an increased nuchal fold was the marker of the start of some difficult decisions. The gynae recommended a Harmony Test, so instead of posting pics on Facebook that day and celebrating our new baby, we dragged ourselves one floor up to the lab and I had the test done. We waited 3 very long, drawn out weeks (over Christmas and New Year) for the results. At 15 weeks the decision was made to terminate for medical reasons and we said goodbye to our growing little baby boy.

In hindsight I don’t feel like my journey actually began until the termination happened. Suddenly a once very beautiful, serene, stress free process had a dark, ominous shadow looming over it and the desperation to become pregnant again and fill the void became all consuming. Within the next year, I obsessively visited several gynaes, acupuncturists, herbalists, had a laparoscopy, went on clomid, ovidrel etc. to fall pregnant as quickly as possible with the constant feeling like I was running out of time. I felt surrounded by birth announcements, baby showers, pregnancies which seemed to fuel my ever-growing panic (all the while keeping this struggle to myself).

It is now over two years later (I am now 37) and although we are still struggling to conceive from unexplained infertility, my husband and I are finally in a much better space with it all. For us the “trying” so frantically put far more pressure on our marriage than anything else that had happened and at one stage we were almost losing our way from each other.

One of the most challenging aspects for me has been the perception from others that it is almost greedy for wanting another child so desperately when you have already been blessed with one, while others struggle to even conceive. The perception that the pain and grief of losing one is so much less if you already have another child to love. To be told, that at least I have experienced pregnancy and childbirth does not make me feel any better. It is all a personal journey and I should not be made to feel guilty for feeling the way I do.

When asked to write my story, I thought it would be better if I did so anonymously. I was not sure why I wanted to, but then realised it was a sense of shame that was attached to trying for so long. A stigma that perhaps I am not woman-enough or ‘normal’ as I fail to do something as natural as falling pregnant.

I am surrounded by friends putting on brave faces through their difficult journeys. But one thing I have realised while writing this is, speak out and don’t be ashamed, your journey is not a failure, you are not faulty in any way. Tell your story, share your fears and empower your friends and women everywhere so that we can stand together and help each other.