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Chronic Anxiety & IVF - Jennifer Maycroft


I would stumble every day trying to fix together the pieces. The pain of those two weeks caring for her haunts me everyday, I watched her slowly slip away and there was nothing I could do about it. She fought ovarian cancer, bravely, for 5 years. We grew stronger throughout this battle. I no longer looked at her as just my mum but my best friend. She was a proud, strong and determined woman. A mother to myself and my two siblings, a wife, a sister and a friend to many. 


It's only now as I have become a mum I will always wonder how she kept it all together. She was always so organised, her hair and make up done every day. I could watch her for hours getting ready at her dressing table. And whenever I smell Coco Chanel it stops me in my tracks. That smell for me is my home. After the funeral I went straight back to work. I thought if I could just keep busy my mind would block out the pain. I wanted to feel nothing but this came at a price. Six months later I experienced my first anxiety attack. Every limb in my body was screaming out in pain and I honestly thought I was going to die. I ran outside my house and lay on the grass. Numb. My throat burning. Struggling to breathe. And all I wanted was my mum. I made a lot of mistakes and I pushed people away. I was hurting and lost.


It would take a year of therapy, hospital visits and taking different medications to start rebuilding my life. I have chronic anxiety, which is something that I’ve learnt to live with over the years. I’ve found it's best not to fight it but to learn what my triggers are. Sometimes I just can’t explain what is going on in my head, so I’m silent. 


I met my husband in January 2014. We started talking on social media – I believe his opening line was ‘you look like an onion.’ And obviously you know you’ve found someone pretty special when you get that kind of compliment…His witty charm must have worked as we got married on March 7th 2015 and I moved to the other side of the country to live at his base. 


Before my mum died I was very career focused, I have a degree in criminology and I was determined that I’d be a police officer. But that all changed. I was no longer driven by a career or money. I knew all I wanted was a family.

After a year of trying for a baby we knew something wasn’t right. We both had tests and we received a phone call asking to come and discuss the findings. ‘You will never be able to have children naturally’ - a sentence I never thought I would hear. My broken heart that had been glued back together was once again starting to crack. Once again I was lost, stumbling around in this infertile world, longing to be a mum and longing to be with my mum.


Every Facebook pregnancy announcement crippled me and left me sobbing on the cold bathroom floor. I grew tired of people asking us questions. ‘When are you two going to have kids?’ ‘You’re getting on a bit now, don’t you want a baby?’ I fell deeper and deeper into isolation and once again in a very dark place.

After many invasive and uncomfortable tests we were told that we would never be able to conceive naturally. To be told that there may be a chance that we would not be able to have biological children of our own destroyed us. I felt like I was grieving all over again. I was grieving for a child that may never come. After 3 years of trying, it took it's toll on our marriage, but as we were starting to get answers it brought us closer together. I cried, I cried a lot. Then I cried some more. But then I decided enough of the ugly crying. What would mum do?


So I fought back. We fought back. We told our families and close friends, we shared our story and I became friends with many other couples struggling with infertility. Without this support I’m not sure we would have been able to fight as hard as we did.

We talked about adoption and IVF. We decided to try IVF first, so in January 2018 I started injections for my first round of IVF. I found it extremely difficult, not only with the physical changes in my body but mentally; I battled demons most days. Will this work?  I’m not strong enough. I am not good enough. I over analysed every twinge and every pain.


But through the good days and the very dark days we became a team. We fought together and we never gave up. When I said ‘I can’t do this’ my husband was always there to remind me that I am strong, I am good enough and one day we will have a child waiting for us. Waiting to pick us as parents. We had hope and we never gave up even when we wanted to. On the 7th February I took a pregnancy test (one of about 30, no joke I must have spent at least £50 on tests). The first time I have ever seen two pink lines. I thought my eyes were deceiving me. We were pregnant. And I was terrified.


Throughout my pregnancy my anxiety was heightened. I was terrified I was going to loose our baby so much so that I never got to enjoy it. I missed my mum terribly. I had thrombocytopenia which meant I was monitored closely and after a fresh bleed I got induced at 37 weeks. We ended up in theatre for an emergency c-section and I’m still a little traumatised by it. I felt guilty that I didn’t give birth. I felt less of a mother.

I really struggled with the baby blues and as time went on these baby blues turned into PND. I know what you’re thinking ‘But its all you’ve ever wanted what have you got to be depressed about.’ Recovering from a c- section is HARD. Toss in hormones and being sleep deprived it's no wonder that so many mums struggle. But no-one talks about it!


I had to watch my husband take care of our baby as I physically couldn’t lift him.I had to watch from a window as he took him on his first walk in his pram. Nobody tells you that its normal to feel this way. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, exhausted and terrified. I will always be honest and say that the newborn stage terrified me. I had longed for this baby, I imagined my life with a child and I thought it would come naturally. But it took time. And that is okay. George Arthur Monaghan. When I look at you laughing I can see your Nana. She would have loved you. You have the ability to bring joy to everyone you meet and I am so blessed beyond my wildest dreams. Some days are tougher than others but George has helped to fix the broken pieces of my heart. Infertility will always be a part of me and I know I will grieve not being able to have children naturally for a long time to come.


I am motherless. I am infertile. I am strong.


If you are reading this and find yourself struggling please know I am always here for you. Do not let infertility destroy you, let our story give you hope and always be kind to yourself.


We owe our dreams to science and the medical staff at Wessex Fertility.

Marie Curie for bringing light in the darkest of times The midwives/consultants at Dorset County Hospital for safely delivering our baby and looking after me throughout my pregnancy.

If you are struggling with your mental health please talk to someone, anyone. Or you can contact The Samaritans – 116 113 (free 24 hour hotline). It's confidential and offers support for anyone who is in despair or distress.