What it’s like to… be infertile for nine years

The founder of Supercharged Club, Mary Meadows, tells us about being infertile for nine years, eventually conceiving via IVF, blood pressure issues in pregnancy that required longterm bed rest and developing postnatal depression… 

United by a shared love of straight talking, mum-power and gin, Mary Meadows and Emma Fullwood founded Supercharged Club in 2015. They combined their skills and experience in fitness, nutrition and life-coaching (and motherhood) to launch Supercharged with one major goal – to get mums feeling good about themselves.

Today, Mary Meadows opens up about her difficult journey through infertility to motherhood – with many hurdles along the way. And ends by telling us how this led to her doing the work she does with other mums… 

“Hope and statistics. The balance of these two things was a daily struggle for nine years whilst I tried and failed to get pregnant and stay pregnant. The constant imaginings of twinges, cramps, constant knicker checking, the knowledge of my ‘cycle’ became an understandable obsession.

I would continuously try to ‘fix’ myself: acupuncture, losing weight, herbal teas, herbal medicines, massage, different positions, legs up in the air with a pillow under my bum in the vain hope that a bit of help with direction might encourage the sperm to meet egg. Our sex life revolved around dates, temperatures, clinic appointments, various procedures and poking around, and the odd tantrum (from me).

We tried round after round of Clomid, medical intervention in the form of IUI (interntrauterine insemination) and finally after I said I never would – IVF. Making a baby was my life for nine years, now at aged 40, having qualified as a performance coach and NLP practitioner just over a year ago, I am skilled in asking great questions, and so during those nine years what did I learn?

I used to look longingly at the descriptive ‘pregnancy spa days’ whilst trying to get pregnant

I learnt that I am stubborn, persistent, and when a goal is clear and everything is aligned, the successful outcome is inevitable. I learnt that you can waste a LOT of time comparing yourself to others, being swayed by what worked for them (this goes for eye cream, workouts and getting your child to sleep). But ultimately, what worked was when I shifted the focus inwardly and focused on being the best version of me – healthy body and healthy mind.

I believe this played a pivotal role in the success of our last IVF round which resulted in the gorgeous Albie, now aged nearly five. Is there anything I would have done differently? Yes, I’d have made time for my relationship, date nights, talking about something other than the latest fertility news and the consistency of my discharge.

I would also have made time to relax and look after myself, introduced mindfulness into my life and applied the same efforts to nourish me during my pregnancy too. I would have let go of unrealistic expectations and daydreams of taking ‘baking classes’ whilst on maternity leave, spending days in the spa whilst pregnant (I used to look longingly at the descriptive ‘pregnancy spa days’ whilst trying to get pregnant).

I was meant to be a mother, I knew this from a young age

Lastly, I would have focused on the good stuff that I had right then and there and not worried about the future. What would I tell my younger self about this period of my life? Stop doing shit that doesn’t matter! Leave all the fertility forums, stop goggling and concentrate on YOU.

I was meant to be a mother, I knew this from a young age, so one way or another I knew I was going to have a baby. I just didn’t realise what I would have to let go of in the process.

Pregnancy was a tough deal, we had two eggs that fertilized and both implanted, but unfortunately one was lost at around nine weeks. The constant knicker watching didn’t stop even when I started to feel Albie move inside me, I lived with a constant fear that it was too good to be true, that something awful was about to happen.

Subsequently, my body and mind suffered. I was in and out of hospital on stronger and stronger blood pressure control medicine, and feeling worse and worse as the pregnancy went on. At around 24 weeks I was admitted to hospital after a doctor recorded my BP at 200/120 and that was the start of my bed rest. I wasn’t allowed up or out for the rest of my pregnancy. I had a home BP monitor and when it went above a certain range I had to go straight to hospital.

We are all on our own adventure, and it’s ok to ask for help when we need it

Albie was nearly delivered early, then my BP would come down, and I would go home to more trashy TV, and trying to relax, whilst eating flapjacks. This was our life for the next 10 weeks, my whole family on call for the latest drama. We got to know the nurses on the maternity ward really well, and I ended up feeling more comfortable in a hospital bed than my own.

Albie was delivered by planned C-section on 13 December 2011. The procedure was long (I had a massive placenta apparently and I can still feel the surgeon with a knee on the bed trying to get it all out) but Albie was born screaming (a sound that I had longed to hear) accept it felt like I was in an episode of Maternity Diaries, nothing felt real.

Postnatal depression was mentioned during the 10 days we spent in hospital but I had to wait a long six weeks till the doctor finally diagnosed it and the long journey of recovery began.

The worst question I would be asked is ‘how are you?’ I still hate it now. I find it really hard to answer, I think because for a very long time I had no idea how I felt. Everything was new and scary and having never prepared for anything other than getting through from a positive pregnancy test to a live birth, looking after an actual baby was plain weird.

I am passionate about supporting women, building them up, helping them strive towards being the best, badass version of themselves

Everything else in my life suffered whilst my attention from ‘fertility googling’ went to ‘PND googling’ and how to get better NOW. I didn’t want to hear that it took time, I didn’t want to hear that I was affecting my baby’s future emotional health because of my illness, I didn’t want to hear my husband’s voice asking for some time for us, I didn’t want to see or reply to texts, phone calls, emails from worried friends and family and at times I didn’t want to hear the baby crying because I didn’t know how to answer any of them.

Mary Meadows and Emma Fullwood - founder of Supercharged Clubs, supporting mums
Mary Meadows and Emma Fullwood – founder of Supercharged Clubs, supporting mums

But all this led to me co-founding Supercharged Club. I am passionate about supporting women, building them up, helping them strive towards being the best, badass version of themselves. I have learnt so much, and I truly believe that my experiences have led me to this place. I shine my light to help others discover their own.

It took me 38 years and a two-week yoga retreat to realise that I was in charge of me, that we have a choice even if at times it feels like we have none. With the right tools and techniques, and a positive mindset, we can do anything – achieve our goals, strive towards our dreams and help others on the way.

We are all on our own adventure, and it’s ok to ask for help when we need it. Supercharged Club was born out of seeing so many women suffering from the same behaviours and unhealthy habits. Emma and I support women, share our expertise, are honest about our own adventures in life and open up about the bad bits as well as the good bits. We can change women’s lives. Our goal this year was to impact 1000 women’s lives, and we have nearly reached our target with two months of the year still to go.”

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