Mama Matters - IVF and Body Image with Elinor Battersby

I’m almost looking forward to the day that they ask where babies come from and we can tell them “when two people love each other very, very much, they save up oodles of money and go to see a doctor
who gives them 20+ syringes…

As an IVF Mama myself, I was super excited about this interview. I think IVF is one of the most magnificent things that clever brains have created and I’m eternally grateful to them and science. I know that Emma feels exactly the same!

How long were you trying to conceive before having IVF?

My husband actually told me when we’d only been dating for a few weeks that he couldn’t have

children. That was 2013 and looking back it was all kind of a dramatic time. After just a few months we

went for a procedure to correct his infertility but it failed. The doctor came out to me where I was

waiting in my little private sitting room and told me very definitely that the procedure hadn’t been

successful and we had no chance whatsoever of getting pregnant. This was pretty devastating because

we’d been really confident that it would work!

We each spent some time after this getting used to the possibility of never having a baby and figuring

out what that meant for our relationship. We decided that even with no children, we wanted to be

together more than anything. I knew without a doubt that he was happily ever after for me but it was

still a massive decision to be making at the age of 23 when all I had ever wanted was children! Once

we’d made this choice we discussed what we wanted to do from there and we both agreed that

although we could be happy without one, we really wanted a baby. By the end of 2014 we had agreed to

start IVF as soon as we were married. We both really wanted to have children and we made the decision

to keep going until we made it happen.

So you didn’t have to take the dreaded Clomid or any other fertility drugs before IVF?

Due to ours being a case of male infertility I never had any meds or anything before IVF. In a lot of ways

this was a blessing, but at the same time its difficult to deal with such an abrupt, hardline ‘no chance at


Even though you were told you wouldn’t conceive naturally, did you still cling on to any secret hopes?

We had a 0% chance of ever conceiving naturally so you’d think that least there would have been no

crushing hope-and-disappointment phase but I guess it’s human nature. Every month I would get my

period and I would realise that some small part of me had been holding its breath and hoping for a

miracle. I would catch myself daydreaming about it and have to give myself a shake. Seeing people with

babies would cause a little stab of pain. I just kept telling myself that after the wedding we would be

starting IVF and to try not to think about it until then.

Did you have lots of people asking when are you going to have kids/why don’t you have any yet?

People started asking about kids right when we first got engaged and I mentally kicked myself for every

time I had ever asked another couple that question. I would mumble something awkward about hoping

to be lucky enough or not everyone being so lucky and then I would shuffle off. This was a big contrast to

once we actually started IVF, at which point I because VERY open about the whole thing. I think that

before we got started it felt like being in limbo and I didn’t want to jinx anything or think about it all too


Did your husband have a particular kind of male infertility?

He’d had a vasectomy! 9 years before we met, when he was with his first wife- they didn’t want

children together and he didn’t know that they would break up. The moment they did split he realised

he wanted children if he could find the right person, and started researching reversals (the

procedure) and for us to start trying for a family. I was so excited!! We had just got back from our

honeymoon and we leapt

straight into the scans and injections! We did it all privately because we don’t qualify for any IVF on the

NHS, so where and when was up to us and we just got going as soon as we could.

What was your experience in taking the IVF meds? Are you a pro at needles now?!

My husband is a gem and did all my injections for me! I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I got bloating and cramping and I was absolutely exhausted! That was all manageable though- the worst

part came when we attempted a live transfer that first month. I was chock full of meds and hormones

and then had to take more meds and hormones and have an embryo transferred. It was a perfect

embryo and had a 50% chance of success. We were sure it had worked and then when I developed OHSS

it seemed like confirmation. Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome can occur when pregnancy hormones

are added to the artificial hormones. It felt like I was being struck by lightning everywhere, all the time.

It wasn’t fun. And I wasn’t pregnant. The doctor wasn’t really able to explain why I developed OHSS but

no baby. It’s possible I had a chemical pregnancy that was just very brief.

Either way, I was physically and emotionally drained so we took a month break before trying one of our

frozen embryos.

So only one embryo was transferred and it split into twins?!

We only had two embryos left after our failed first attempt and I was young and healthy and fertile, so

we only had one transferred. I think it split because my husband and I are rubbish at sharing. (ok, fine,

I’M rubbish at sharing!)

Perks of Live Lived In twin baby scan IVF. Interview with Awesome Mama Illustration

What were your first thoughts when you found out you were having twins?

I had actually been very clear and vocal about not wanting twins… So it was a little awkward. We had a scan at 7 weeks and the second it came up on the screen I saw the yin yang symbol and I said “that’s more than one baby.” I then laughed with mild hysteria for an uncomfortably long time and I definitely cried. I don’t remember saying anything else until the end of the appointment when I asked the doctor if she was sure they were both ours.

When I got outside I called my mum and told her and she cried and panicked and asked how I was going

to cope, which was… unencouraging. But then I stood there looking at the scan picture, at those two

little humans, and to me they already looked like babies. My babies. And I loved them.

I sometimes still felt as though something had been taken from me. I had lost the opportunity to be just

me and my baby. There was an adorable little interloper in my womb who would be wanting to share in

everything. That’s probably difficult to understand, but that’s how it felt. Now though, I couldn’t imagine

it any other way. Just having one baby sounds lonely!

How was your pregnancy and birth?

Rubbish! Twin pregnancy goes straight from first trimester sickness to third trimester pain! I was huge, I

had rib flaring, back pain, ankle swelling (we’re talking beach ball!) and heartburn. Pregnancy was agony

and birth nearly killed me.

At 34 weeks and 5 days I started bleeding, my waters for one baby broke on the way to the hospital and

my contractions started soon after at less than a second apart. I had two failed epidurals and 20 hours of

agony with little to no progress. Henry was lying sideways at the top of my tummy and so the

contractions weren’t pushing Felix down the birth canal. Another 6 hours later when I was finally fully

dilated and taken through to the operating theatre to start pushing, Henry was still sideways and so we

had the same problem. Pushing just squished Henry a bit and had no overall effect.

Eventually they went for an episiotomy and forceps and with two more pushes Felix was on my chest.

He was small and quiet and grumpy with big dark eyes, looking up at me and I couldn’t believe it. He was


They had told me I wouldn’t get much time with him because the priority would be getting Henry out

safely, but luckily I started hemorrhaging pretty severely and lost a third of my volume of blood. They

spent almost an hour stopping the bleeding and they let me hold Felix whenever I was conscious. Then it

was time to push again and Henry made his appearance screaming the place down. My perfect boys.

Do you feel proud to be an IVF Mama?

Immensely! I know everything that I’ve been through to get my babies and I am so proud of myself.

We’re very open about the fact that our boys are IVF babies. We’ll be open with the munchkins about it

too. I’m almost looking forward to the day that they ask where babies come from and we can tell them “

when two people love each other very, very much, they save up oodles of money and go to see a doctor

who gives them 20+ syringes…”

Body Image

Did you feel different about your body during pregnancy to before you were pregnant?

I loved my body during pregnancy. I loved the feeling of being so huge and full of life. It was a real

redeeming quality of pregnancy for me, which is just as well because pregnancy was horrid!

How did you feel about your postpartum body?

Good then bad. I was lucky and lost the weight quickly just by walking every day and eating normally,

but once I’d lost the weight I slowly started to realise the things that weren’t going to change. I have

stretch marks and I have wrinkled tummy skin and my tummy is lumpier and bumpier than it used to be

and I don’t think that’s going to get better. My boys are 20 months old now. And I look older. I look

tired. My joints ache and I have back problems. Pregnancy did such a number on me!!! Don’t be put off,

lots of people have kids and are fine!

Adjusting to my new state has been hard and it’s an ongoing journey, but there was a time when I

thought I might never get to have stretch marks. I could have stayed smooth and thin and unbroken, but

I wouldn’t have my kiddies. This is the path I’ve chosen and I love it despite the physical cost. However,

some days I still look in the mirror and feel totally rubbish.

What’s the main source of inspiration for your tees/sweatshirts?

Me! And @muthahood.

My first t-shirt was my ‘Lived In’ slogan. I was lying in bed one night thinking about how much my body

has changed and I suddenly sat up. I texted my husband who was downstairs watching something

rubbish on TV and I told him I had the perfect way to describe my postpartum body- “Lived In”. He said

“if that isn’t already on a t-shirt, it should be!”

From there it was just a few months of researching to find a manufacturer that had the product quality I

wanted without compromising on the ethics. All my t-shirts and sweatshirts are made in the UK in a

carbon neutral factory.

How do you want the Mama to feel when they wear your clothes?

Empowered! Gemma from @muthahood has created something amazing. The Strong Girls Club makes

women and girls everywhere feel powerful and capable and like we’re a part of something. It might

sound ambitious, but I want the Lived In slogan to make Mamas feel strong too. Our bodies may have

changed but only because they did something incredible. We created life! We are all Lived In and all in

this together. 10% of profits go to women’s charities because we’re a team and women supporting

women makes us all stronger.

Do you think theres a social pressure for women to bounce back into shape after having kids?

Definitely. It was one of the first things I thought about when I found out I was having twins. Isn’t that

just immensely sad? My grandma’s generation was told to stay in bed for the first two weeks after giving

birth. Our generation has a ‘Mummy Makeover’ plastic surgery package involving liposuction and a

tummy tuck.

What advice would you give to anyone who’s not feeling great about their appearance?

Give yourself time. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself more the way you would want your little one to be

treated in your position. And remind yourself that it’s worth it- that may not help everyone but it

definitely helped me. Don’t dismiss how you’re feeling but remind yourself that it’s a journey and you

won’t feel like this forever.

Is there anyone you admire for having great body confidence?

Gemma from @muthahood again… I’m a bit of a fangirl but I love watching her embracing colour and

loving clothes. And @inpolife who is just totally gorgeous and running round on instagram stories

brightening up my days. @mamaclog is amazing! She shares her beautiful mama-body on the gram and

looks fab!

You can say Hi to Elinor on Instagram here

Her Perks of Life Tees here

Discover Elinor’s prints and crafty makes here

What did you think of Elinor’s interview? Drop a comment below x

The miscarriage

The miscarriage dream.....except it wasn't a dream. It happened. It feels like a hazy fog, someone else's memory, but it's mine. Even though it was only a little over 2 weeks ago it feels like it was a lifetime ago.

And I don't know how I feel about it. I don't know If I ever will. It all happened so quickly. One moment I had the shock of a positive pregnancy test and then fast forward to almost 10 weeks pregnant and was gone. I'd barely begun to digest the fact that there was going to be another baby and then, nothing. 

I'd initially taken the pregnancy news with a side order of freak out. Up all hours of the night panicking about double buggys and what would I do at naptime when I had one baby to put to sleep and a newborn demanding my attention?

We'd decided to find out the gender this time as I didn't feel as connected to this pregnancy the way I did with Fox. My IVF baby. My heart and soul. My blood, sweat, tears and so many needles. He'd been in my thoughts for nearly 3 years by the time I'd got his positive pregnancy test. But this one, was a bolt out of the blue and I wasn't prepared. 

I was slowly starting to come to terms with the situation and we'd dreamily started to discuss baby names. I'd found out I was pregnant on Burns night, and with the Scottish family connection, maybe we'd call it Angus for a boy, or Virginia for a girl, as that day was also Virginia Wolf's birthday. The early excitement had just started to wash over me, until the scans started.

As our first pregnancy was IVF, I was able to have early scans with this one. The first showed a sac, "yes, there's DEFINITELY a pregnancy in there!", the sonographer excitedly told me. But it was too early to see the heartbeat. So I came back 2 weeks later. Her face this time was different. It wasn't looking good. The embryo had grown but it wasn't in line with where it should be. Everything was in place but it was just so small. "It's not looking good" I heard her say, as if she'd spoken underwater. I cried. I cried a lot. And when you have to leave, alone, through a waiting room of baby bumps, well let's just say, it was the most horrendous feeling. 

That night both my husband and I cried. I howled. It was like I was experiencing all those years of infertility all over again. The frustration of a body that just couldn't do what it was supposed to do.

That week wait for the next scan was weird. We analysed and analysed again over dates of conception and concluded that we'd got it wrong and in fact, everything would be OK, as we weren't as pregnant as we thought. 

At the next scan I told this to the sonographer who looked quite aghast that she'd have to be the bearer of bad news yet again. "I'm sorry" she said, as she showed me the screen. "The baby has stopped growing".

I didn't cry as much this time. I was too numb. I left, in the snow, too shaken to even call my husband. I trudged home as the snowflakes fell and it felt peaceful. Like it had taken the baby in a serene world of white and everything would be OK. 

But was it OK? Was I OK?! I still don't know. It's been very hard to work. Anyone who checks my Instagram could probably detect that something is up. My feed is usually relatively up to date, with commissions and happy doodles. But at the moment it's a handful of pre-taken photos that require minimum effort. I'm supposed to be working on a collaboration with a wonderful hypnobirthing midwife, but every time I pick up a pencil and draw those pregnant bellies, my mind spirals. How can I draw strong, empowering (and pregnant!) women, when I'm anything but myself?

Yesterday a reminder popped up on my phone "12 weeks pregnant today!". But I'm not. Not at all. The time when we would have been starting to break the good news has been taken away from me. And in all honesty I feel like a bit of a mess inside. I know time will help and eventually I'll be able to process this whole crazy time and just like me as always, I'm trying to pack this sad time away in a box and bury it deep. But it will always be there. The one that got away. The one that wasn't meant to be. The one that wasn't strong enough. I just hope I'm strong enough.