McGrath grew up in Redcliffe, a seaside town in Queensland,
Australia, where she studied Business, before moving to the United
Kingdom in her early thirties. She currently lives just north of
London, where she met and married her husband. She has a professional
career in human resources. Rachel has always had a passion for
writing both fiction and non-fiction, creating many short stories
from her early teens as well as smaller pieces of work that have
never been published. Finding
is Rachel’s first novel, a story capturing a difficult time in her
life; she is passionate about sharing this with a wider audience.
the Rainbow was awarded the People’s Book Prize winner in 2016, and
was also a Bronze medal winner in the Reader’s Favorite awards.
Rachel has a strong following all over the world via her personal
sequel to this captivating memoir, Embracing the Storm, is due to be
released in early 2017.
right of Rachel McGrath to be identified as author of
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the author and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the
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edition Published in 2015 by Vanguard Press
edition 2017 by McGrath House
book is dedicated to my husband: my partner, soul mate and best
friend. We have been on this journey together, working through some
of the toughest moments a couple can experience. He is my rock,
always there to hold my hand and keep me positive.
brief word before we start
all the mums and dads, and the hopeful mums and dads to be, this is
not a reference book, and nor is it meant to be. It’s not a guide
on how to fall pregnant and stay pregnant, and it certainly won’t
take you through each and every exciting month of pregnancy with tips
and techniques on your health, wellbeing and growing baby.
story is purely an account of my own experience when trying to
conceive. Something I put pen to paper, to help reconcile what I went
through, to manage my feelings and internal thoughts through a period
that has been a crazy, rollercoaster ride of emotions. Trying for a
baby was both a mental and physical journey of excitement, hope and
loss, something I had never imagined would be so difficult and
sometimes so painful.
you are thinking about getting pregnant, trying to conceive, are in
the midst of your pregnancy, or you are fortunate to be holding that
bundle of joy, you will understand that each and every couple has a
very different experience. I found that my experiences even differed
throughout each of my pregnancies. Unfortunately there is no set
formula, rhyme or reason when it comes to falling pregnant, or
starting a family and that really is the beauty and the pain of this
is my journey through early pregnancy: the good the bad and the ugly.
This is my personal account of how I felt, what I experienced, the
highs and the lows, and sometimes how I dealt with the setbacks I was
forced to face on our baby-making road.
do not wish to advocate any advice throughout this story, or provide
any false hopes or crush any dreams. I wrote this to share my
experience of a personal topic that many women don’t seem to talk
was something I realised during my pregnancies and my losses. Many
women and men see the subject of early pregnancy loss as taboo, and
generally avoid discussing their own experiences. Perhaps it is too
hard and too painful to discuss, perhaps it’s the knowledge that
others will be questioning them on what happened, or what they will
do next. I’m not really sure.
couples we know didn’t tell a soul that they had experienced
infertility, loss and disappointment in the early stages of
pregnancy. Most, I found, would wait until the end of the first
trimester, or even late into the second trimester before sharing
their exciting news with close family and friends that they were even
expecting. It was a nice little secret most couples kept to
themselves in those earlier days of pregnancy. During those exciting
times when we found out we were pregnant, I suppose keeping it
between myself and my husband would have been something just for us
to know, and enjoy that moment. However, I guess I’m a little
different to the norm, and it’s probably why you’re reading this
I found is that each time I went through the process of excitement to
apprehension and loss, it was the support from friends and family
that helped me stay strong. My workplace was supportive and
understanding and it really wasn’t worth the time and effort for me
to be secretive about what I had gone through. Especially with the
number of hospital and doctor’s appointments I ended up attending.
in saying this, I appreciate that this was the way I coped with my
personal feelings and experiences, and that everyone has different
needs and therefore may approach things very differently. There is no
right or wrong way to manage pregnancy and loss, there is only your
hope that my story is helpful in some way.
world of ‘trying to conceive’ is a place that is both physically,
mentally and emotionally all consuming. It’s a place I didn’t
even know existed until two years ago and frankly one I was quite
the age of thirty-six, I had no idea of the impact of cycle times or
when I actually ovulated, and then there were Basel temperatures,
cervical mucus, days past ovulation, implantation and the hope of
that elusive ‘Big Fat Positive’ result! Many couples at certain
points in their life or at various ages make that important decision
to start a family, and this then starts a cycle for some that results
in a very quick positive result and a lovely bundle of joy! For
others, it’s a tough road filled with hope, heartbreak and turmoil,
with numerous unsuccessful conception cycles and early pregnancy loss
through miscarriage. So how do you really prepare for this?
not sure you can. Whilst I possibly didn’t really understand the
world of trying to conceive, you quickly learn as you enter it. I
recall discussing with my husband how we would probably be pregnant
within the first couple of months. We were so excited! We were very
naïve. Many people had warned me, saying I would have a challenge
being ‘over thirty-five years’, but we were both fit and healthy
with an active sex life, so why would we have any problems?
had a number of friends who had prior miscarriages or fertility
problems, and again that hadn’t phased me. Of course I’m
different, and it will happen for us, I’d thought. We will have a
family within the next twelve months. I was so certain of that.
was seven months before I got my first positive pregnancy result. I
was getting incredibly frustrated at that point, thinking it would
never happen, and that there was actually something really wrong. We
even started to look at alternative options like adoption or
surrogacy. A little premature, but that’s me all over; I’m
impatient. If you were to compare my experience with others, seven
months is actually a good result. I had heard of many others who had
tried for over twelve months before getting pregnant the first time.
we didn’t have a first successful pregnancy, it gave us hope.
That’s just part of the story that you will read in the later
chapters. What I found is that pregnancy is a journey, with many
bumps along the road. The timing of cycles and waiting for results,
the hope and excitement of finding out you’re pregnant, and then
the pain and grief of miscarriage, which often leads to starting all
over again; it’s not an easy ride for any woman or couple to
endure. Nonetheless, it’s a passage that many couples unfortunately
need to pass through to achieve their ultimate goal, a healthy baby,
starting a family and becoming parents. It’s one of the ultimate
life experiences and an aspiration I’ve personally dreamt about
from as far back as I can remember.
asked me once whether I would go back and change things; whether I
would alter my path if I had the choice. Would I have started trying
to conceive earlier, start a family, had I known that we would have
the challenges we faced? It made me think. Would I? If I had a time
machine, would we have started earlier, and would I have looked at my
I reflected on this question I recalled several events throughout my
life that made me really think about motherhood. It was during these
events that I may have had a choice to prioritise my decisions
differently about family and my quest to become a mother.
back, I’m not clear whether it changed the way I viewed my
potential to become a mother, but these events certainly stay with
me, even today. Perhaps in some ways, they reaffirmed my path?
the years before I decided on parenthood, I did find that anyone who
was currently a parent, or others who had started the process of
conception had an opinion on it, and they were quick to share their
views. It was clear that of course everyone’s own view was the
correct one; that we should accept and follow the same set of
guidance, and all will be well in the world.
would have thought it was all that easy?
I have learned is that life is not that easy. There is no clear path;
no one right way forward, and fate above all will guide our future.
At the end of the day, we all roll the dice, and move forward with
the hope that we land where we want to be. If we don’t, we just
I have none. All I have are my reflections, and the knowledge of
different paths I could have taken at different stages of my life.
my early twenties I had a serious relationship; I was young and
enjoying life, living in a different state away from my hometown,
with a promising career ahead of me. Whilst this was my first serious
relationship, the guy himself was not someone I could foresee a long
lasting future with. In the end we stayed together for around four
years, and that was far too long.
the time I was in this relationship, I was advised that I had an
abnormal cervical smear. In the investigations, my gynaecologist did
say to me that I had follow on problems from an appendix operation I
had when I was sixteen and possible signs of endometriosis. He told
me I should consider starting a family earlier rather than later.
fact his actual advice was, if you don’t start trying soon, you may
not be able to have a family in later life naturally. I was young, my
life was ahead of me, and for me having a baby at that stage of my
life, with a partner who was unreliable and more like a child
himself, was the last thing on my mind.
did stick with me however, and there were times when I reflected on
the risk I was taking. The bigger risk to me however, was bringing a
child into this world when I wasn’t ready to be a mother. I didn’t
have the financial stability to offer a growing child, the structural
basics, a loving, stable family or a home with a suitable environment
for a growing active child. Finally, I still wanted for things in
life, to experience the things I aspired to achieve, personally and
professionally. I never wanted regret, and personally it would have
been unfair to start a family when I wasn’t ready. Had I taken my
doctor’s advice, that child would be almost fifteen years old, and
my life would be very different. The big question to ask is: ‘Would
I have really regretted starting a family back then?’ My perfectly
honest answer: ‘No’.
an adult you make life work with the circumstances you are given. I
know that any child I might have had at any stage of my life would
have been loved wholeheartedly. With one parent or two, with limited
financial resources, that child would have had what was necessary and
important for a happy healthy life. Love would have been its centre.
Nonetheless, I did make a choice at that point in my life, and that
choice was with no regrets. I wouldn’t be who I am today and we
make the decisions in our life for a reason, and life just happens.
My Eggs in One Basket
the time I was thirty I was single and I had moved interstate again,
back to my home city. I had a really good job, I’d bought myself a
house, and I was living a fabulous single life with great friends,
lots of travels and spending my disposable income on extravagances
whilst I could. I actually loved being single and free at this point
of my life. I had felt lost in my past relationship, becoming someone
I really didn’t like, which ultimately impacted my friendships and
I was carefree, with only myself to worry about. I wasn’t even
looking for a partner at this point of my life, as I was focusing on
who I wanted to be and enjoying myself.
was at a good friend’s house one afternoon, having afternoon tea.
This friend I’ve known since I was at school, and she has been in
the same relationship since her late teens. She was married in her
early twenties to a lovely man, and they had their family home set
up, with their first young daughter only two years old. She had
experienced some trouble conceiving originally, so she already
understood the challenges that many face when trying to start a
family. Me, I was still oblivious to all of this, and had not thought
further of starting a family at this point. In fact it was not a
priority at all at this stage in my life.
good friend asked me about my life; did I have a boyfriend, why not,
am I putting myself out there? All those fabulous yet imposing
questions you love to hear from a happily married person when you’re
single. I was nonchalant in my responses, and tried to change the
subject. Then the real killer question came, the one that stuck with
me for a while.
you thought about freezing your eggs?’ She asked me in a way that
was light and airy, yet I saw the intent in her eyes. I remember
looking at her confused, not really sure where she was going with
this. I kind of laughed, brushing it off as a joke. But she was
know you’re thirty now, and your chances of conceiving decrease
year after year. Even if you met someone now, you might not be
married for a couple of years. You should think about freezing your
eggs. You don’t want to lose your chances of having a baby in the
future’. She was so direct, something I loved about this friend,
and sometimes she was right to be.
conversation still replays in my head, and to be honest I cannot
remember what I said in response. It wasn’t something I had ever
thought of, and I didn’t see it as something I should be worried
about at thirty. Would you?
of course I didn’t take the advice. It didn’t even start me in a
mad panic to find my future husband. I carried on with my lifestyle,
moving again interstate within a few months for my next career
opportunity, and in my early thirties I moved again, this time
overseas to further pursue my career and my personal ambitions, to
travel and find adventure.
I’m happy to say that all my eggs stayed firmly in my ovaries,
waiting for the day that I would finally settle down, opting for the
natural way of starting a family. Perhaps it was the ‘au naturel’
way to approach my family options, but I was comfortable with that at
the time, and I still am now.
final incident that stays with me happened after I had met my now
husband. We were both around mid-thirties, and had been together just
over a year having just moved in together. We were enjoying our life
as a ‘young’ couple with financial freedom. We enjoyed champagne
dinners out, romantic weekends away, travelling to new and exotic
destinations and just enjoying life with no real responsibilities. We
were also saving for our first home together.
were out for dinner one evening at a small local restaurant. Another
couple were at the table beside us, and somehow during the meal we
started conversing with them. I’m not really sure how it happened,
but I ended up in conversation with just the woman, as my husband and
her partner engrossed themselves in their own banter about cars. She
had been telling me that they had been married now for several years,
she was over forty and that they were desperate to start a family.
Due to her age, she was seeing her chances to conceive a baby start
to diminish, having tried several options including a number of
rounds of IVF. Nothing had been successful for them so far.