Sue Dougan and the elusive stork
By BBC Radio Cambridgeshire presenter Sue Dougan
Sue and her husband want a baby. Nature didn't do its thing, so they turned to science. After unsuccessful IVF treatment, Sue's giving it a break and turning her energy instead to running the Belfast Marathon to raise awareness of infertility issues
My story is an all-too-familiar one for anyone facing fertility issues. We met, we married, we had hopes. We trusted nature, and I trusted the nuns in school who made it all too clear that getting pregnant was the easiest thing in the world... (the nuns lied!)
My husband and I have been trying to start a family since we married in 2005. For a few months it’s nervous fun. Then a mild anxiety sets in. Then you start to worry. Then you surrender to medicine.
Sue at the Silverstone Half-Marathon
We were treated very sympathetically by our GP, who immediately referred us for tests. The diagnosis was the easy part – the harder bit was learning to live with it, and coming to terms with pursuing baby-making the scientific way. And so began the slow process of pursuing IVF treatment.
We felt utterly cheated. We learned quickly that achieving a pregnancy is not the same as searching for a new job, or aspiring to a new car - that it was beyond our control and potentially beyond our wildest dreams.
We would always be denied the joy of watching a stick turn blue, of breaking the news to our loved ones, of keeping the news quiet for the first few months. We knew that every part of our journey to parenthood was to be controlled, measured, medicated and - worst of all - did not come with a guarantee.
Managing your expectations while awaiting treatment and whilst undergoing a cycle of IVF (in our case, IVF with ISCI, where sperm are injected directly into an egg so as to increase the chance of fertilisation) is straightforward. You can just about predict the physical side effects (unpleasant) and plan for the emotional upset (learn to smile even when you feel like death inside or someone says something about cute babygrows!). My job requires me to be cheerful and chirpy. Not easy when your abdomen is bruised from injections or you can’t button your jeans when your ovaries become the size of oranges.
All of that I could just about deal with, but it’s harder to know what to say or how to feel when people demand to know why you are not pregnant yet, or there comes news of a family member or colleague announcing a pregnancy.
Coming to the end of a seven week course of treatment and being told by your consultant that it was unsuccessful (twice) is indescribably tough. Those undergoing fertility treatment call it an emotional rollercoaster. I’d agree – except you can’t always see the big loops coming and the queues are miles longer than Alton Towers...
So, why does Dougan want to Do A Marathon?
Well, sometimes you need to step off the rollercoaster and try something easier. Rather than face another round of tests, injections, scans and raised hope, I decided I needed something else to occupy me for now. I signed up to run it for myself. But since I announced it, family, friends, colleagues and listeners alike have all casually enquired as to ‘where they can sponsor me’. It seems a shame not to take you up on that offer!
So I’m running 26.2 miles around my old hometown of Belfast for Infertility Network UK, an organisation that offers support and advice for couples facing infertility and childlessness. On 4th May 2009, I’ll be undertaking a different journey. For now.
Dougan is not just doing a marathon for herself, but for everyone waiting for the elusive stork.
For details on the work of Infertility Network go to www.infertilitynetworkuk.com or click on any of the links below for more help and advice concerning infertility issues.
Sue Dougan is a member of INUK and hosts the afternoon show (Monday to Thursday from 12.30pm) on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. She currently has four frosties* in a freezer in London, and two feet covered in blisters.
*Fertility speak for embryos
last updated: 09/04/2009 at 13:35
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