Inexplicably, I somehow didn’t update my blog with any of our IVF round 2 shenanigans. Very strange given that I so readily broadcast the most mundane updates of my reproductive system all over Instagram at every possible opportunity…. But for anyone who hasn’t already been inundated with the aforementioned, a quick recap of how it went down goes like this:
• 2 follicles responded (just like last time)
• 3 eggs were collected (just like last time)
• All 3 were mature (again, like last time)
• All 3 fertilised (ooh this is new)
• All 3 looked great at day 3 (hello, things are looking up…)
• All 3 became blastocysts at day 5 (thrilled at this)
• The best looking blast was transferred (even more thrilled at this)
• 1 of the other 2 remaining blasts was good enough to freeze (super duper thrilled at this)
And that’s when our luck changed…
• 6 days later I bled
• And 5 days after that, the pregnancy test came back negative
It has now been 6 weeks since the negative result and, quite without warning, the fiendish, summery clasp of August is upon us. It’s very hard to say why I continue to be so shocked at the arrival of a new month when I’ve been experiencing the very same calendar rotations on repeat since birth; but for reasons I am going to blame on TTC, I’m increasingly caught off guard every 28-31 days. And yes, I am still talking about the date here…
This particular August marks an unfortunate anniversary in our household – three years of trying to conceive (and I mean the “peeing on sticks and calculating ovulation” kind of trying – not just your casual “let’s throw caution to the wind and see what happens” trying). Three 😱 whole 🙄 years 😭. I’d seen the couple next door move in, tie the knot and pump out two perfect children in less time. Fertile f*ckers. In a parallel universe, perhaps we might’ve been friends – me and Mrs Next Door – maybe we would’ve spent these summer months chasing around our toddlers and swapping breastfeeding tips and complaining that none of our clothes fit but, tragically, I can only participate in the latter. Suffice to say, we haven’t become pals and I’m yet to find any common ground beyond our postcode.
A couple of weeks ago, shortly after Mrs Next Door returned from the hospital with the latest, beautiful addition to her brood, it dawned on me that I’d spent the whole of 2019 either doing IVF, preparing for it or recovering from it. More than half the year had passed in an emotional blur and all I had to show for it was a substantially larger waistline – courtesy of the hormone fluctuations and a newfound, sedentary lifestyle. In the wake of this realisation – and fuelled by a never ending supply of self-pity – I took a solemn look back on three year’s worth of expense, sacrifice and dedication to the cause. The boring job I’d accepted for the maternity benefits; the overseas wedding I’d missed because of the Zika Virus; the months and months of avoiding alcohol, caffeine, swimming, spinning, social events, trips abroad and job opportunities… Always believing that pregnancy and motherhood were waiting just around the corner for me when apparently, they were waiting for Mrs Next Door instead.
And that’s when it hit me: I can’t keep basing all my decisions on a future that might never arrive. As corny as it sounds, I need to start living in the present again. In a moment of despair-forward-slash-epiphany, I grabbed a pen and a paper and wrote down everything I wanted to do with what was left of 2019 that didn’t hinge itself precariously on the elusive possibility of becoming pregnant.
Here are a few of the things I wrote:
1. Find a new job, one that actually excites me – irrespective of maternity benefits
2. Fall back in love with exercise
3. Soak up every single precious moment of my sister’s wedding
4. Celebrate my 30th birthday
5. Celebrate my friends’ 30th birthdays
6. Visit a new city
7. Do an open water swim
8. Take one of those paint and wine classes
9. Spend a weekend away with friends doing nothing but chatting, drinking and eating
10. Start dance classes again
11. Go wine tasting
12. Take a camping trip
13. Run through a field of lavendar
14. Go to one of those outdoor cinemas
15. Throw my sister the perfect hen party
16. Watch a sunrise
17. Do another bike ride event
18. Learn to run 5k again without keeling over
19. Spend a day at the seaside
20. Read a classic novel
I appreciate much off the above are fairly cliché bucket list items but I want to be able to look back on 2019 and not just think “oh that was the year where all I did was pump myself full of hormones and cry”. It’s all too easy and perhaps even impossible not to let infertility and IVF claim large chunks of your life. This is my attempt at taking back the reigns, even if it’s just for a little while.
Next year (2020 omg) when we feel ready, we’ll make the arrangements to try and bring that frozen embryo back home with us. But until then, Simon and I have decided to take a break from the fertility stuff and spend the next few months throwing ourselves into all the seasonal bucket-list clichés we can. Rainy day BBQ’s and unflattering tan lines included.
And to that tactless Doctor who told me not to take my foot off the gas and to keep pressing forward with treatment after treatment after treatment whilst I’m still producing young, healthy eggs – let me tell you that those young and healthy eggs are of absolutely no use if my mind, heart and soul feel like they’ve aged a lifetime!
Time for a break.