Letting Go Of What Was Supposed To Be

D and I met when I was 14 and he was 15. He was older and cooler and two years ahead of me at school. I took GCSE music in a bid to impress him (daft idea) and we quickly became pretty inseparable.

He asked me to be his girlfriend in April 2003, when he had just turned 16 and that was the beginning of the last fifteen years. In 2007 we went to university in Leeds and in a damp and draughty back to back terrace we made our first home together. In 2011, in the week before we came home from Leeds, we bought an antique diamond ring and managed to keep it a secret from everyone until D proposed on a clifftop over a year later. We had an engagement shoot in that spot a few weeks later, and swiftly went into full time wedding planning.

Little did we know that the planning would be somewhat interrupted. In 2013 we bought our first house. We'd fallen in love with it and somehow managed to completely miss that it needed a huge amount of work doing to it. We spent the next year, and rather a lot of money, completely overhauling it and ended up with a beautiful, very stylish, teeny-tiny home that wasn't big enough for a normal sized sofa but which we were so proud of.

In 2015, 12 years after we first got together, we finally got married and as much as I know it's the worlds most often used cliché, it really was the best day of our lives. I said in my vows that on that day, we became part of the same team, and we had a pretty clear vision of the next move for our little alliance...

I remember asking D when he was about 17, 'You do want to have kids one day, don't you?' and can still see the look of fear in his eyes as he tried to work out what the right answer was! I'm pretty sure at that point he said 'yes' just to make sure I didn't break up with him, but over the last decade we've moved on from discussing names and cooing over tiny clothes. We've imagined Christmas morning, discussed our thoughts on schooling, dreamt about teaching a little tribe about life and generally planning for our lives as parents.

Just a few weeks after we got back from our honeymoon we put our tiny cottage on the market and sold it in less than 48 hours. After an incredibly long and stressful few months of arguing with the land registry and spending half our waking hours on the phone to the solicitors we moved into our current home. It has three bedrooms and a downstairs toilet, a safe back garden and double doors into the living room that we immediately pictured throwing open on that fantasy Christmas morning. We'd bought our family home, team Nickerson-Smith HQ, and all that was missing were the final members.

We'd decided when we were planning our wedding that we'd start trying for a baby the January after we got married. When January 2016 arrived and I didn't fall pregnant straight away we remained excited, optimistic. My Mum had fallen pregnant with both me and my sister in the first few months of trying and I was sure I would too. We started talking names, looking at nursery decor, even buying the odd tiny item of clothing. I bought D a mug with the words 'The Adventure Begins" emblazoned on the side and imagined handing him a coffee with a grin on my face and watching comprehension dawn.

But then six months went by. Then nine months. In September 2016 one of my best friends had her baby girl and it hit home then that whole human lives had been created in the time we'd been trying to make one of our own.

It was around this point the we started to feel a bit panicky, and that I started to feel emotions I hadn't expected to associate with starting a family. Guilt, fear, resentment, even jealously. It's the most horrible feeling when you realise your first reaction to a family member announcing they're pregnant isn't joy, but to burst into tears because you wish it was you. Of course the joy and happiness is there, but it's accompanied by a bitter side note of 'it should be us by now.' I think I'll write in more depth about this as it's been something I've really struggled with. D has continually tried to remind me that we don't know everyone's stories, and as more and more people around me (both in person and those I follow online) seemed to be announcing they were pregnant, I've tried really hard to remember that not everyone shares their story and they might have gone though the same torment as us before sharing their joy. That's part of why I'm so keen to talk about our journey. Every time I've mentioned it briefly on social media I get messages from people saying 'us too' and while sharing is a completely individual decision, I think we'd all feel less alone if more people who felt able to talked about it.

I've been through numerous cycles of thought about changes I can make; I've given up caffeine and drunk green smoothies, cut back on red meat and spent £30 a month on the best fertility supplements I could find. I've practiced fertility yoga, carried crystals in my pocket, used a fertility monitor and hounded D the minute he got through the doors because 'the egg is showing today and we only have 12 hours before we've missed this month'.  On the other hand I've also somewhat hit the self destruct button, thought 'f**k it, it's not working anyway so I'm going to drink all the coffee and wine I like and see if that works because celery and water clearly doesn't!'

Of course, none of this made any difference, and in February 2017 we decided to start investigating. My first round of blood tests came back fine and it appeared I was ovulating normally. The doctor told us that 80% of fertile couples will conceive in the first year and that of the 20% that don't, half of those will conceive in the second year. He told us that in his experience, once couples start looking into why it's not happening, the reassurance that everything seems to be fine is enough to take away the stress that was preventing them falling pregnant. I went away feeling sure that it would happen soon - what were the chances of us being in that 10% that don't manage to fall pregnant in the second year...

We carried on trying for another nine months, all the time getting more and more certain that there must be something going on with one or both of us that was preventing us from becoming parents. We started decorating the smallest bedroom in the hope it might instill some positivity, and every so often I'd get out the little collection of tiny clothes and blankets we'd accumulated and hope it wasn't all pointless.

Then, in November last year, we got the results back from another round of tests and discovered that we were indeed in that 10%. There's a reason is hasn't happened for us and without intervention there's no chance at all of me falling pregnant naturally. It's been bizarre to realise that all the stressing and worrying and day counting and supplements and laying upside down would never have made any difference.

I'm still not sure it's really sunk in. We have our first appointment with the fertility team next week, and after that we'll being the process of IVF.  I feel like we've suddenly become part of a whole new community, and while it's a relief that we don't have to 'try' any more, it's going to take a while to come to terms with the fact that our journey to become parents now will be largely a medical process.

Mostly we're hopeful, a bit of us is even a little excited. Meanwhile a lot of us is terrified and there's definitely still a bit of us both grieving for the way we thought it was supposed to be.

But theres no point dwelling on that. This is the way it will be and as usual, we'll meet each new challenge together.


  1. You're so amazingly brave to share your story ♥ you and D are going to be the best parents ever ever ever xx

  2. This made me cry, and I know it all already! People reach destinations by different means - doesn’t matter how you get there, once you’ve reached it, you won’t care one bit about how circuitous the route was. Love you both 💖