When I was going through fertility treatments, I'll be honest: I read nothing. I joined nowhere. I didn't want the melodic sound of my own whining drowned out by the chaotic whining from a crowd of strangers.So this month, karma came and kicked me in my heavily IVF injected ass when I personally hand-picked Anne-Marie Scully's 2013 book: Motherhoodwinked: An Infertility Memoir for the IVF Journey Support Group Book Club on FaceBook. http://www.amazon.com//dp/B00BCLCYGO (https://www.facebook.com/groups/theivfjourney) Every agony, every heartache, every frustration Anne-Marie's gone through while trying to get pregnant, she puts out there so that others will not only see and feel but know that it's not "just them". And, thankfully, Anne-Marie was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.LSF: You leave nothing much out of Motherhoodwinked. We're all of us, I would say, at our worst emotionally during our infertility struggle and you didn't hold back on any of it: The ridiculous expectations we have, the crazy things we try, the depressing rituals. It's the stuff diaries are made of. Why put all of the raw, very personal insanity out there?
Anne-Marie: I found the journey so incredibly lonely, isolating and at times very very frightening. I shared my story simply because I didn't want anyone else to feel that depth of loneliness and pain. I wanted to connect with other women going through it and let them know how they were feeling was actually normal for someone in their situation. I had found great comfort in reading similar stories myself.
LSF: Having been older when I first tried to get pregnant, after trying the old-fashioned way for a while, I never even considered doing anything but going straight to a fertility specialist, but you tried everything... And I mean... everything...from the common sense to the bizarre and a lot in between. The short list: A nutritionist, Reiki, acupuncture, Vitamin D, Food Allergist, stopped eating egg whites, brewer's yeast & cow's milk, B6, Folic Acid, Omega 3, Royal Jelly, Evening Primrose, Chlorella, Spirulina, sweet potatoes and drank... Billy Goat Plum, Bottle Brush, & Old Man Banksia (which sound like pieces in a board game to me)... and a fortune teller which even in the book you admit probably wasn't such a great idea. Do you look back at this massive list now and think: "What in the world was I thinking?" and If somebody could magically promise you now that the answer to your infertility was in that list somewhere... would you try them all, all over again?
AMS: I guess because I was younger I felt it made sense to try as many of the non-interventionist methods as possible before moving to fertility treatment, but "yes" looking back I do feel ridiculous over some of them and I think I probably knew deep down they were pointless. I was just so desperate, I was willing to try anything and I had this need to constantly be trying something. I found it hard to be patient and just do nothing. The second part of your question is harder for me to answer as I feel I did in the end get to the root of why I wasn't getting pregnant and the solution isn't in that list.
LSF: The whole first half of the book, you were running around a mile a minute trying everything to get pregnant, working twice as hard at your job (you're thinking you want to get the career work done before you leave to have a baby and they just think you're a fantastic employee and keep throwing promotions at you)... Then you decide to prove that baby showers don't bother you so you volunteer to organize everybody else's baby showers... And this crazy schedule went on for a long time! To be honest, I kept thinking you were going to have a heart attack or nervous breakdown. I felt stressed out just reading about it. Do you remember what it felt like living through it?
AMS: Yes it's very vivid still. I remember how frantic it all was and how utterly confusing. I also remember feeling like I was grieving. I felt a huge sense of loss and sadness for a life that I had imagined, that I didn't know was ever going to happen. That feeling which I guess can best be compared to grief was just so overwhelming. I didn't know how I was going to ever escape it. Being busy helped I guess even though it was probably contributing.
LSF: There was a lot of frustration and despair in this book, but to me, there was a partial happy ending: I realized when I read in those last pages about you and your husband getting closer and more loving toward each other that throughout the whole book not only was I rooting for you to have a healthy baby, but that your relationship would survive. You two took on so much so early in the marriage, did you ever think during those first few years that he might say one day: "I just can't take this anymore. This wasn't what I signed up for. Bye."? .
AMS: Yes I worried about it and it affected our marriage hugely. I guess we were both so incredibly open with each other even about the darkest emotions we had. There were no secrets, everything was laid bare. I think that level of communication even though at times it was hard for each of us to hear helped us to survive it. Hiding anything I feel causes issues in a marriage so the best advice I can give is to communicate even if you feel like a sad broken record.
AMS: Later that year we did a 3rd round of IVF and I did get pregnant again. We had a daughter born in Feb 2014. When our daughter was 10 months old I fell pregnant again naturally. We had a son born in Oct 2015. I had heard stories like this but I never ever imagined it would happen to me. I'm still finding it hard to believe that after everything, we conceived naturally in the end. Before I did that 3rd round of IVF I had another laparoscopy and immediately went on the pill while waiting for treatment. The doctors at my new clinic advised this protocol so that the endometriosis would not have an opportunity to grow again after the lap. During pregnancy, endometriosis doesn't grow as the hormones that cause it to are not present. Then when my daughter was born, I was breastfeeding for 8 months and didn't have a period so again those hormones were not present. So that was a total of about 18 months where my system had a chance to heal. I believe it was the endometriosis that was causing me not to get pregnant initially but I guess I will never know for sure and that is the frustrating thing about all of this. I do believe we would never have conceived at all though without having done IVF first.
I hope you enjoyed our interview and apologize for Anne-Marie being so damn pretty. I try to interview women who are less physically beautiful than I, but ran out of potentials about three years ago. We can only hope that Anne-Marie doesn't really look like that and that she bought a stock photo somewhere or like mine, her photo's 20 years old... but she's only in her thirties now... so I doubt it.
Her book can be purchased on Amazon at the address above. Mine can be purchased to the left over there... Just saying.