There’s a part of me that can’t believe I’m writing this, that it’s happened – that we have become one of the lucky ones. Life can feel cruel sometimes and fate so unfair, but then there are little rays, gifts. There are miracles.
And I know this because I’m pregnant again.
After our last cycle of IVF failed in May, it was fair to say I hit a bit of a wall. We didn’t even tell our parents we were undergoing treatment again, just two very kind friends who helped so much with childcare, understanding and empathy. This time it didn’t feel exciting, or like much of an adventure at all. If anything, I felt caught between a rock and a hard place: on the brink of 35, three years older than our first cycle with the same fertility problems, plus a M.I.A fallopian tube thrown in to the mix as well. I didn’t approach IVF with a lot of enthusiasm if I’m honest, but I knew – we’d been told – that it was our best shot at conceiving, and were aware our odds of success were higher while I was under 35. It’s just great feeling like you have geriatric ovaries when you’re only in your mid-30s (it’s not).
Anyway, it didn’t work. It was a horrible time, particularly because during the wait to see if we were successful, I have never felt more pregnant in my life. Dizziness, nausea and the same food aversions from my previous pregnancies arrived in spades, but then so did a negative test and my period. Oh.
In hindsight, it makes sense that the progesterone pessaries would cause similar symptoms and that it might not have felt so cruel if I didn’t have two prior experiences of how it felt to be pregnant. Additionally, because we are complete masochists, the failed cycle coincided with my 35th birthday and what would have been the due date of the baby we lost. I never thought I’d cry at the site of a big chocolate cake, but there’s a first time for everything (I still ate it though, obviously).
We talked about undergoing treatment again, and I knew we would, eventually. We wanted to have another baby – a sibling for our little boy – but for the moment, all I felt was anger towards stupid IVF and its crappy drugs and bloody useless false hope-giving eggs. It hadn’t worked, we had lost, and I knew I needed time to accept that before boarding the train again, old ovaries or no old ovaries. We talked about the end of the year and trying naturally again because, why not? We had nothing to lose after all.
Fast forward two months and we began trying after leaving my body to get back to normal for a cycle. I woke up after a night at a friend’s house, where I’d spent a lovely evening drinking wine and talking about everything and nothing. I put my light-headedness down to too much alcohol and my funny stomach down to the gorgeously greasy takeaway. I did know my period was due that day and was yet to arrive – but when you’ve been trying for babies on and off for years, these kinds of thoughts pass fleetingly all the time and you learn to mostly shove them to the back of your mind and remind yourself you’re infertile.
But actually, this time, it was something. A bunch of cells were at that moment multiplying inside me to become a tiny human, gluing themselves to me, connecting. We had made a baby. Five days later, I tested, almost annoyed at myself for daring to hope, nearly certain that peeing on a stick would cause my missing period to arrive with a big fat I told you so. I didn’t even mention anything to my husband, knowing that despite his strength, he had been left emotionally battered too and I was sick of getting both of our hopes up all the times I thought I might be pregnant but wasn’t. So him at work, our toddler napping upstairs and my cheese on toast under the grill, I took the test.
And burnt the cheese on toast.
I’m now 17 weeks and our little bun is due in March. I know that we are lucky; so, so lucky and we haven’t stopped feeling grateful for even a moment since that positive test.
Physically, everything has progressed without too much issue so far – again we’ve been very fortunate. The anxieties left from my ectopic pregnancy made the first weeks difficult though; and even today I found myself biting my lip and crossing my fingers as the midwife checked baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Pregnancy after loss is such a different experience to my first, where I happily assumed everything would be okay and that getting pregnant was the trickiest part.
But, I am so very happy to be in this position, to have had the privilege of the first weeks of worry when I had honestly begun to fear we never would. It feels like we have come full circle; from our early innocent years of trying for S, to the eventual IVF which led to him, to our amazing natural conception which quickly went so wrong, to the following months of desperately trying instead of just trying to heal, to the tough failed fertility treatment and now magically, to today: where we have always wanted to be.
I don’t understand quite how we got here, why this happened. I just know if we hadn’t experienced everything else, we wouldn’t be at this point now. And I know fate isn’t everyone’s cup of coffee but to me this does feel meant to be, as though we were led here. This was our path. This is our story.
I know there is no one size fits all message for people experiencing infertility or loss, or both, and that so many stories have different endings. I don’t think anyone ever forgets where they’ve come from, whatever the outcome. We play the cards we’re dealt while rolling with the punches and riding the good times. Ultimately, I guess that is all we can do.
As for me, there will always be a place in my heart for what might have been, but I am ready to move forwards – to see what’s over the rainbow – and am just so thankful to be starting this new chapter in our journey, together.
Here’s to an exciting and sleep-deprived 2016 – with more big trouble ahead!
A quick word of thanks to everyone who took the time to read, comment or share the three pieces I wrote on here about IVF, our loss and trying to heal. It is enormously important I think to try and normalise infertility and pregnancy loss and by supporting this blog, you have helped with this so much. I also continue to be so touched by those who share their own stories with me or offer words of comfort. Thank you.