It has taken me a long time to write this. A really long time.
Before we started down the road of assisted fertility treatment, I had great intentions of documenting our IVF journey*.
Even if I didn’t publish it, I was sure that I would definitely write it all down, to have a record of that time to look back on – hopefully with fondness after a successful end – but also as a form of therapy. In the past I have found writing has really helped me to process strong emotions. But not this time.
I couldn’t do it.
As we passed each milestone, I distinctly remember the sentences forming to describe what was going on and how I was feeling. They leapt out at me, perfectly capturing the emotions and sensations. But the thought of putting pen to paper instantly shriveled up that creativity and rendered me impotent. The words failed.
I got as far as a few headlines, still saved in my drafts folder well over a year later. But the body is empty. I could never bring myself to start that first sentence in the end.
It was too hard.
If I thought about it too long, I became overwhelmed by the intensity of the situation. The things I thought would be hard were not as bad as I thought they would be. But the things that were hard knocked me with such force I was winded.
Even now if we were to have this conversation face to face, I know I wouldn’t be able to get the words out without snot and tears. No matter how hard I tried.
But I think it’s time now.
Honestly, with the exception of my husband, I don’t think I’ve had a full conversation with anyone about our IVF treatment. The adult and mother in me knows that I have to let it out at some stage, even just to begin healing and to move on. So here goes…welcome to the first entry in my retrospective IVF diary.
I’ll start at the end first.
It didn’t work.
17 months, one fresh IVF cycle, three embryos, two abandoned frozen cycles, two completed frozen cycles, no embryos left, one more fresh cycle with no embryos to freeze, no pregnancy, no baby.
That’s it in a sentence really.
It was horrific. Without question the most challenging time of my life. I’m sure my husband would say the same. It seeped into all aspects of our lives. It affected how I felt about everything – my career, my interests, my abilities to do literally anything including having a conversation. It constrained our time and how we lived our lives. Stupid things. Like where we went and not being able to make plans.
But we kept going because we knew “it would all be worth it”. We started out with such high hopes…
Look, it’s not the end of the world. Nobody died. We are still a very happy family of three, for which we are eternally grateful. But it was so hard. And I am thankful that we are out the other side of it now and I can look back and find the words to describe it. This is the part where I say I hope it helps somebody else, but then I know full sure that anyone beginning their trip down the IVF road does not need to read an uninspiring story without the happy ending of “it was all worth it”. So I’ll just be honest and say that this is pure self-indulgence on my part.
You’re welcome to join me if you like. But of course there’s no hard feelings if you skip it. There’s a lot to be said sometimes for shouting into an empty room.
On a lighter note, you may enjoy this article my other half wrote a couple of years ago about the joys of giving a sperm sample. It’s all true unfortunately!
PS It kills me to call it an “IVF journey”. It sounds so blaaah. I’m sorry, but I don’t know what else to call it without getting caught up in more clichés – rollercoaster, adventure, roadtrip, drainpipe…