The Infertile Midwife

My story, by Sophie Martin

In 2018 I found myself at my lowest ebb. We had been trying for a baby for a year without success, and everywhere I looked I saw pregnant women and babies

When you are TTC it is common to notice bumps and babies more often, but being a midwife, I really was surrounded.

When we first started trying for a baby, naively I thought I might have a head start being a midwife, as I was very familiar with the menstrual cycle. Not only was I wrong in this assumption, I also learnt how very little I knew about the IVF process.

Unsurprisingly, midwives love talking about birth and babies

Often I would find myself at the nurse’s station whilst we were writing our notes, and someone would start the conversation about what our birth preferences would be, whether we would want a home birth, an epidural and so on. These conversations were just idle chit chat to my colleagues, but to me they felt like a dagger in the heart. I worried I would never get to make these important decisions about my birth, as I couldn’t manage to get pregnant.

My most painful memories of this time

Doing twelve and half hour shifts, then rushing home so that I could have sex with my husband before he left for work. I then slept during the day before returning to work again. To say that this time in my life was not enjoyable is an understatement.

The shift work was wreaking havoc with my hormones, and I was a tired, emotional mess

That first year of trying was the most emotionally challenging. As time goes on, I have adjusted to our ‘normal’; that making a baby for us will be the combination of quite literal blood, sweat, tears and a hell of a lot of determination.

The practical side of being an infertile midwife means juggling appointments and IVF treatments. During our first round of IVF I finished at a home birth just in time to rush of to a scan as I was mid  treatment cycle. Due to a number of reasons, since then I have reduced my hours to part time and this has been a really positive decision for me.

I am fortunate that my colleagues and managers are extremely understanding and supportive

I really couldn’t ask for more. I know not everyone feels comfortable sharing their personal circumstances with their employers, and I was reluctant initially to disclose this. The unpredictability of scans and appointments meant I had no other option but to explain and I am so glad I did.

Although it sounds like a cliche, I try to bring the life lessons I have learnt into my practice

I now experience compassion that I didn’t know was possible before infertility. I have a much greater understanding of the journey that some women go through to become mothers. I understand anxiety at a much greater level, and having been through a high risk pregnancy myself, I understand how emotionally taxing being pregnant can be. Infertility has also taught me to be much more mindful about the language I use, as I have been on the receiving end of hurtful throwaway comments.

I love being a midwife, and I refuse to let infertility take any more away from me, as it has already taken so much

Some days are hard. I just want to hide under the duvet and not come out until I have my baby in my arms . . . but thankfully these are few and far between now.

On my more positive days, I am grateful for all that infertility has brought to my life. It has opened my eyes, and hopefully continues to make me a better midwife.

To read more from Sophie, head over to the infertile midwife blog, or follow her on Instagram @the.infertile.midwife

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