At just 18 Nina was told her chances of conceiving naturally were very slim. However after years of fertility treatment she became mum to a little boy and soon after a little girl. She never imagined that once her dream came true she would experience the depths of postnatal depression
As a little girl the dream was always there: me with a baby of my own, maybe even more than one. Nursing my dolls and pushing them around in their prams was just a practice run for when I got older and became a mummy. Fast forward to being 18 and after years of pain and irregular periods I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries and told I'd never conceive naturally. I was devastated, my whole world had crumbled right there in front of me.
I left the hospital and cried like I’ve never cried before. How could life be so unfair and take away all I’d ever wanted? No one would ever want to be with someone who couldn’t give them a family so I’d just end up alone. What on Earth was the point in living, I may as well not have a life at all.
It was a tough few years that followed, everywhere I looked there were babies, lots of pregnant friends, no one could understand what I was feeling. How could they understand when I couldn’t even understand myself? All I could do was paint on a brave face whilst on the inside I was falling apart.
I muddled through a few years and somehow managed to meet the man I would later call my husband, my soul-mate and my everything. I was upfront from the start about my fertility problems, and luckily I’d found someone who wanted to be with me regardless. We got married and despite the problems facing us, I came off of the pill anyway just in case there was even the smallest chance of a miracle.
A long couple of years passed with many a disappointment at negative pregnancy tests and more pregnant friends. I was finally referred to the hospital who did exploratory tests, they reconfirmed the polycystic ovarian syndrome and found one of my fallopian tubes was also blocked. I was started on what was to be two years of clomid, a tablet that is supposed to make you ovulate every month and help things along. Two years later after 24 cycles, including two blood tests each month to check how it was working, it wasn't doing anything for me so she said the next route would be IVF. I was devastated, why was my body such a failure, all these people having babies, why couldn’t I?
To get a referral to the IVF unit, I had to lose weight. I'd finally reached my goal seven months later in time for yet another hospital appointment. I was over the moon when I got the OK to be referred to the fertility unit. This took a couple of months but I was ready to start the first IVF cycle in July 2013.
Unfortunately, it wasn't successful as I hadn’t responded to the medication. I was inconsolable for weeks, so close to my dream of being a mummy only to have it snatched away. In January 2014 it started again, this time seeming harder and more intense than the first. All my hopes were pinned on this, surely life couldn’t throw much more in my path.
It was more than worth every needle and injection I had to administer when I got a positive pregnancy test result two months later!
I had my beautiful baby boy in December 2014. I couldn’t believe it, a baby of my own, an addition to our family that we had longed for. After so much pain and heartache my little boy was such a miracle. Maybe life wasn’t so bad after all.
When he was three-months-old, I started to feel a queasiness that I had only ever had while pregnant. I told my husband and he suggested doing a pregnancy test, I laughed and told him not to be so silly. Then a week later when it hadn’t subsided I decided I should rule it out. There was no chance of it being positive, was there?
It was the strangest thing watching two blue lines appear on the test stick whilst my baby boy wriggled about on the bed beside me. I had to do about 10 more tests just to be sure, but there it was – I was pregnant!
I was blessed with a miracle when the IVF worked but to have fallen pregnant against all the odds and have another miracle was beyond amazing. My beautiful little girl was born the day before her brother turned one. How blessed was I to be given all I’d ever wanted.
It hasn’t come without its price though. I’d suffered with depression in the past but the long and gruelling fertility journey coupled with two pregnancies so close together and two toddlers has meant a long battle with Postnatal Depression. Almost three years now have passed since my second baby was born and there are still days where I don’t feel like I can face anything but there isn’t a choice when there are two small people relying on you.
I am so lucky to be in the position I am that it almost makes me feel guilty somehow for feeling like I do. I feel like because of everything I went through, I don’t have the right to feel frustrated when I’ve had a bad day or the stress of two toddlers gets too much. I didn’t think with wanting parenthood so much I would suffer so badly, it was my husband in the first instance that spotted I wasn’t myself, the crying was more than just the ‘baby blues’ so he encouraged me to speak to my GP.
The doctor was fantastic, so supportive and gave me several options, I chose the path of antidepressants which once the dosage had been sorted, helped me feel more myself. However once I realised I was pregnant again I had to stop taking them, I was terrified of slipping back to where I was but with support from my family, doctor and health visitor I got through the rest of my pregnancy.
Once my little girl was born, the constant tears and awful feelings reared their ugly head once more, only this time worse than before. When I visited my doctor she suggested trying something alongside new antidepressants so I opted for counselling. With two young children it wasn’t easy to get to weekly appointments so I did an online cognitive behavioural therapy programme which was really helpful in showing me techniques to deal with situations. It took a few months to work through along with occasional telephone calls but by the end, I was starting to feel more myself again.
My little girl is now almost three and I’m still taking my antidepressants, I’m not sure how long it will be until I can reduce the dosage and then finally stop taking them altogether, but as long as they are helping me enjoy what I’ve got in my life I’ll keep taking them. One thing is for sure though having snuggles with my two little miracles makes everything worth it. I would go through it all again in a heartbeat to get the family I had longed for.