As so it came to pass that on the 14th day of my second cycle trying to conceive, my Clearblue Fertility Monitor confounded my pessimistic expectations and smiled at me. The little white face on the purple screen announced “Peak” – seemingly I was ovulating after all. It didn’t take long before I was mirroring that smile, sharing the news with my husband Burrows, who couldn’t resist throwing a few “I-told-you-so’s” my way.
I didn’t get pregnant during that cycle either, but at least my fears were allayed that my ovaries hadn’t gone into retirement just yet.
March arrived and with it another smiley face … then the crushing symptoms of PMT started yet again. I found myself grappling with incongruous urges, repeatedly playing out a scenario in my head where I bought a one-way train ticket to the coast and threw myself off a cliff. And this was nothing to do with the blow of not conceiving – it was entirely down to my hormones, pinging back and forth throughout my body, playing an incessant game of table tennis. For the third month in a row, I had tested “high oestrogen” on every single day leading up to my LH surge. The glands in my neck were like lumps of graphite and I felt like tearing my hair out, but then it began shedding of its own accord, in matted handfuls, every time I washed it.
By May, the smiley face felt more at odds with my mood than ever. I’d barely touched alcohol for the past five months, I was eating the right foods and hitting my 10,000 steps target every day. Spontaneity had gone out the window – as luck would have it, I always got my peak midweek (unintentional rhyme alert) when my teacher spouse was fighting against a landslide of marking and planning. Approaching midnight, I’d gently suggest that he came to bed.
“But I haven’t done my differentiation yet and the lower abilities need a scaffold for their learning,” he responded with such dismay you’d think I’d asked him to unblock the outside drain.
Still, we never missed a day. We were doing everything right … weren’t we? If so, then why weren’t we getting our BFP? (another abbreviation I’d gleaned from Mumsnet, meaning Big Fat Positive).
“If it doesn’t work this month, perhaps we should make a doctor’s appointment?” I said.
Burrows contemplated this, then nodded.
Given that I was 38, we’d been advised to wait no longer than six months if we suspected there might be a problem. If I needed IVF, time was of the essence, the age limit for NHS treatment being 39. Under Nottinghamshire’s Primary Care Trust we would only be eligible for one free cycle, and there was no way we could afford to go private.
I was garbling the above to Burrows, when he postured, “You’ve been tirelessly monitoring your fertility – what if I’m the problem? I could be firing blanks for all we know.”
And while his tone was effervescent, he had a point – there I was, beating myself up about waiting so long to try and conceive when in fact there could be any number of reasons why it hadn’t worked so far.
“Whatever the problem is, we’ll face it together,” I said, resolutely.