*As featured on BabyCentre

Mum who struggled with infertility says BabyCentre’s support helped her conceive…and has now written a book about it!

When Rachel Cathan struggled to conceive, she turned to the BabyCentre community forums for support. Desperate and frustrated, she wanted to share her experiences, the disappointments, the hope, the raw-ness. But alongside the emotional support, it was information shared in the forums that proved to be so valuable, Rachel was able to conceive her first child.

Despite having fertility treatment and two rounds of IVF, she just knew something with her own menstrual cycle wasn’t quite right – even though she’d raised it with several doctors.

The 37-year-old, who is married to Darren, 39, told BabyCentre: “A friend I’d made in one of the groups told me about a clinic in Greece that had treated hundreds of women who experienced menstrual cycles much like mine – and had enabled them to get pregnant, some of them even conceiving naturally.”

Rachel and Darren took the plunge – went to Greece and a ‘hysteroscopy’ was performed by the consultant who confirmed there was a problem with her womb failing to shed its lining each month.

Rachel added: “She told me that an embryo would never have been able to implant in those conditions. I then had an operation to correct the problem and then we flew back to the UK where we had one frozen embryo from our IVF cycle.

“We decided to use it. Even one day after the embryo transfer, I could feel something happening. Nine days later we took a test that revealed I was pregnant for the first time. Ever. As anyone who has been through this journey will tell you, there are few things in life that can compare to the elation of seeing your first long-awaited positive pregnancy test.”

Baby Ruben was born – who is now three – and a year later Rachel was able to conceive again naturally, going on to have a little girl, Delphine, now two.

Throughout her early fertility journey, which included taking Clomid, having IUI, nutritional programmes, acupuncture and IVF she kept a diary. After sharing with friends they encouraged her to tell her story and publish the diaries as a book, which she’s done, called 336 Hours.

She said: “I kept diaries throughout the ‘infertility years’, and I used elements from all of them to create the book. Although in real life our third IVF cycle was the one that brought us our son, most of the content of 336 Hours comes from our first and second cycles; cycles where I just felt in my bones that I wasn’t pregnant once again.

“But I didn’t want this to be a story about finally getting pregnant; I wanted this to be a story that would resonate with any woman who’s been through IVF, regardless of the outcome. Infertility causes you to do some pretty crazy stuff, and being able to laugh about that stuff with people who are in the same boat is one of the few things that can help to pull you through.”

Rachel said she is really grateful to the other women in the BabyCentre forums, as essentially it’s down to them for their support and help that she was finally able to have a child.

She adds: “The forums provided a wealth of information and gave me many leads to follow up that I wouldn’t have heard about otherwise. One of these leads was vital in finding the doctor who would enable us to get pregnant, so it’s fair to say I owe a lot to this website!”

Rachel’s book 336 Hours if now available to buy on Amazon as a paperback or Kindle.