What I wish I had known by Emily Phillips
Emily Phillips is Features Director of Grazia Magazine and the author of comedy novel TRYING, out now in paperback (Hodder & Stoughton, £8.99)
Trying for a baby can be just that: trying. Which is why when I set out to write a book about that special moment in your life where it seems like the time might actually be pretty right to have a baby – not least because everyone else you know suddenly has one – there was no other name for it.
I was pretty naïve when I came off the pill in 2014 after our wedding. I figured, after all those years of attempting to <not> get pregnant, that it would happen by accident. And given that I was just starting a new job at Grazia magazine, I also figured, I’d be immediately up the duff and not even qualify for state maternity pay. That’s sadly not how unexplained infertility works, sadly.
Skip forward two years, and the half-hearted attempts of ‘doing it’ according to a tracking app and the odd pee-stick (while keeping our boozy social lives just as they were), had given in to puritanical rigmarole and medical testing. Friends were ‘falling’ like dominos. The jealousy was starting to eat away, and yet myself and my husband Charlie continued to grind through stressful months at work, didn’t really pay too much attention to our diets and I certainly didn’t make time for exercise while I was holed up writing a novel. We were essentially treading water. Keeping afloat, but not getting anywhere fast.
Another year on: we were in the throes of IVF prep. Two rounds of IUI down it was tricky to not let the emotional let-down get to us, but I channeled the fear and sadness into giving all sorts of holistic remedies a whirl to try to give me some head-space in the jarring blend of working at work and working at conceiving. It turned out I loved having needles stuck in me (Mia at Gerad Kite was a life-saver), and even didn’t mind being surrounded by tuning forks and crystals with a reiki healer. I started home-making restorative soups and hearty porridges recommended by fertility therapist Emma Cannon, and began taking my daily vitamin supplements with the same committed vigour I poured into my now bi-weekly hot yoga sessions.
It’s hard to say whether we just needed science’s help to override my low-level PCOS, or whether all the prep helped, but I wish I’d flipped the process on its head and taken some time out to look after myself first. But as I write this, eight months pregnant, I realise that sometimes, you need to just have a go at it all and see what sticks. Because a little dose of self-care can never hurt.