I’m 38, happily married and childless. We are not childless by choice. We are childless because I have endometriosis and so far that has prevented me from being able to conceive. At thirty frigging eight we’re not holding out too much hope of conceiving any time soon and let’s face it the clock is soon about to tock.
We’ve had the tests. My husband’s reproductive organs are as perfectly healthy as he is perfectly patient. I’ve had all the procedures. I’ve tried acupuncture, special diets and aromatherapy. I’ve held the newborn baby in my lap and close to my ovaries, wished upon a star and heaven knows my bedroom has seen more sex in the past ten years than a medium sized whore house. You name it, we’ve done and then some. It’s a miracle I don’t walk funny. And still every month I fail the test. It’s enough to give a girl a complex.
We opted for IVF two years ago. It was hard going and I’m sure if we’d had a baby at the end of it, it may have seemed like a walk in the park but we didn’t. No matter how we tried to prepare ourselves for a negative result, hope is often too strong to reason with and when the call came and the negative result received we were both heartbroken.
I’m dizzy at the best of times but during the IVF I became a special needs case. I was so forgetful that I couldn’t be left alone in the house or I’d burn it down. I couldn’t walk the dogs for fear I’d leave one of them in the park and I certainly couldn’t be left behind the wheel of a car or carnage would ensue. Some people report that they become moody, not me I was as happy as I was stupid and my God I was stupid. It was as though with every hormonal injection I gave myself a little part of my brain would switch itself off. I couldn’t work and there were days I couldn’t really converse because I’d disappear half way through a sentence. I know this is not usual and plenty of women get on with their days and lives as normal but in my case disengaging seemed to be my coping mechanism and a crap one it was.
The faux menopause wasn’t so bad. A few night and day sweats and a big red face every now and then didn’t bother me so much. A bucket of deodorant and a change of clothes and I was good to go. My brain vacated in or around the time I started shooting hormones. Every night at 8:55pm the alarm would go off and I’d go to the fridge take out my hormones, my injection pen, and a fresh needle. I’d grab my alcohol wipes and my sharps bucket from the shelf and head upstairs. My husband often offered to help but his offer was whispered, his face was pale and he’d looked like he was about to vomit so I’d politely decline. I’d head upstairs and into our bedroom. I’d put in the fresh needle in the pen, load the hormone, clean the area of my stomach with the alcohol wipe and shoot. It was all done and dusted in a matter of seconds. Aside from the minor side effect of forgetting my own name it was easy peasy.
As nice as the nurses were the internal check-up’s were embarrassing. I used to wear long skirts and high boots so that even with my knickers off and a nurses hand up my lady business I always felt dressed. She’d show me the screen and comment on how big the eggs were getting. I’d nod and pretend to be engaged hoping against hope the conversation would end and she’d vacate my area asap. One of those days she was particularly chatty.
“Are you going back to the office after this?”
“I work from home.”
“Oh that’s nice.”
“What do you do?”
“Oh anything I would have read?”
Please let’s not talk while your hand making its way to my tonsils. “I don’t know.”
“Well name something.”
“Pack Up The Moon.”
She stopped measuring my eggs and thought for a second which seemed like an hour. “I knew I recognised the name. Oh my God I loved ‘Pack Up The Moon’.”
Oh please remove yourself from my innards and they you can tell me you that chapter two made you cry on the bus.
The blood tests were every day or second day I can’t remember now. They were annoying but only because I’ve bad veins so it made things a little more arduous. I was excited on the day of egg collection because it meant I could stop shooting up every night. Donal had to provide a sperm sample. He freaked out at the notion of producing one in a small room with a video or magazine on his lap and a nurse and some other haunted men waiting outside so we stayed in a hotel in town. That morning we arrived to the hospital him with his sample and me with a belly full of eggs. I was prepped for surgery and although they weren’t going to put me under full anaesthetic I was given enough drugs to make the experience as surreal and painless as possible. The experience is vague but I remember talking and reassurances and asking one of the doctors if Jurassic park could really happen.
They removed eight eggs. The next day we were told we had two embryos to implant and nothing to freeze. Two was better than none even though the cell division wasn’t exactly what they’d hoped for. Implantation was another mortifying experience with me legs akimbo in a sterile room with more people in it than an Osmond’s tour bus. But it was over quickly. I saw the embryos fly into my womb and it was incredible and joyful. We went home and I sat in bed watching the box sets of ‘Extra’s’ and laughed all day. The next day I got out of bed and for the next 10 days we got on with our lives. Every morning I’d have to pop in a hormonal pessary that told my body it was pregnant and my body must have believed it because I was sick a number of times that week.
On the day we were told the bad news we were eating lunch with our two friends. Looking back I think we were so sure we were pregnant that we thought it would be a nice way to celebrate. The call came and we were devastated. Whoops.
We haven’t tried IVF again and not because I was so forgetful or the embarrassment or the difficult blood tests or the fact that I felt physically horrible for months afterwards. We haven’t tried it again because we are happy together. We have a good life. We love one another and somewhere along the line we realised that we are both very comfortable with the notion that what’s meant to be is meant to be. Yes we’d both like to be parents but we’re not going to ruin what we have today in a bid to achieve the unachievable. Maybe if we tried it twice or three times or four or five at some point when I’m half demented and Donal has become my full time care assistant we’d get pregnant but at what cost?
Our specialist believes that there is still a chance of natural conception and so we hold on to that. I’m glad we tried IVF and I wish anyone who is reading this and about to embark on IVF the best of luck and love. If the result is negative and when you’ve finished crying and punching the wall you may decide to keep going and if you do I admire and support you. But if you’ve reached the end of the line and it’s all got too much there is no shame in giving up. As Mick Jagger says ‘You can’t always get what you want,’ but that doesn’t mean you can’t be happy with what you’ve got.