Approximately four hours after I found out I wasn’t pregnant I went out for dinner with a few friends who were vaguely aware that I was planning to try to get pregnant but who didn’t know the specifics. So I sat down and there were all the “how are yous?” and I was all “fine” and they were all “just fine?” and then I was all floods of tears and snotty nose and “actually no not really I found out four hours ago that my first round of IVF didn’t work and of course it didn’t because when does it ever and obviously I’ll try again but it’s still a bit disappointing” — all before I’d even taken my coat off.
And they were awesome and didn’t tell me, like some people have, about their friend who got pregnant after eight rounds of IVF (eight? EIGHT? Where the fuck am I going to find financial and emotional resources for EIGHT rounds of IVF?) or about their friend who got pregnant on the first round of IVF (not that helpful, but thanks) but one of them did tell me about her friend D, an acupuncturist who had several (a non-specified number) goes at IVF and then on her final single frozen embryo got pregnant and now has a lovely toddler.
Now, acupuncture is one of those things that’s been dancing on the periphery of my vision for a while. I normally like what I do to have some scientific basis and as it’s nigh on impossible to “pretend” to give someone acupuncture, there aren’t any double blind controlled studies that look at its efficacy. However, there are a gazillion women talking about how it has helped them, it’s something that a lot of fertility clinics appear to advocate, and it’s been part of Chinese medicine for centuries. So…. (yeah, you’re right, one failed IVF attempt and suddenly I’m throwing my principles out the window and joining the brazil nut and pineapple brigade, so sue me….)
Anyway, I met D, and I liked her. As a person. So I thought I’d see her for acupuncture because well, why not? The only thing it’s going to hurt is my bank balance, and I like the fact that she gets the whole IVF thing from an emotional point of view. I also think that she’s incredibly perceptive and insightful.
When we were talking about me crying about the IVF not working out, she asked me a question which hadn’t occurred to me before. “When you’re getting upset, what is it that’s upsetting you?” she asked. And that might sound like a really stupid question — you’re upset because it didn’t work out, because it means more money, more time, more medication, more uncertainty, right? But for all that that is true, when I thought about what was at the heart of it all, it wasn’t that, it was something else.
I realised that I’m upset because I’m scared that I might not ever get pregnant and I might not have a child. And while one failed round of IVF doesn’t mean that at all, it certainly forces the issue front and centre in a way that it wasn’t before. I’m upset because if that happens, I don’t know what my life is going to look like. And, despite my previous equanimity, and for all that I joke that it will mean more holidays and more lie-ins, I worry that, just as I worried three years ago, my job and my family and my friends and my life might not be enough for me for the next 40-plus years. I’m scared that if I go through all this and don’t have a child, I’ll spend the rest of my life never being happy, always wanting something I haven’t got.
And I also realised that I’d spent a really long time getting to the point where I was at peace with the idea of doing this on my own. But I haven’t really spent very much time at all thinking about how I’d feel if I tried to do all this on my own and it didn’t work out. But, I think that’s something that I should probably apply my own mantra to. I’m not there yet — hopefully I won’t ever be — that’s not today’s problem, one day at a time.
So rather than dwelling on that, I started to make A Plan because, as you might have noticed, I like A Plan. More on the Plan next time…