When you read about people doing IVF (and let’s be honest, you do, don’t you? Because you’re here, and I know I’m awesome and all that but I’m guessing this isn’t the ONLY IVF blog you’re reading) or see women having IVF depicted in the media — in books, films or TV programmes, there are these classic tropes aren’t there?
You know what I mean. The woman who grits her teeth when a friend announces a pregnancy. Or wells with tears when she sees a baby on the bus. Or can’t bear to be around children. Well at the moment, none of this stuff ever bothers me. (And let’s be really bloody honest here, I’m not saying it never will. I have, after all, only done one failed cycle, one dummy cycle and one cancelled cycle. I’m still, broadly speaking, at the optimistic end of the spectrum. But at the moment, I’m OK with it all.)
Seeing my friends with their kids, spending time with my goddaughters, seeing other pregnant women, seeing children in the waiting room at the clinic — none of it is the knife to the heart that other women doing IVF seem to say it is. My heart doesn’t sink when someone announces they’re pregnant, seeing a pram in the street doesn’t bring tears to my eyes, but something that happened the other day made me cry in a really unexpected way.
A schoolfriend had put together a book of photos for another friend’s 40th — hundreds of pictures of us all throughout the years, with a handful of captions, including some pictures of their kids (because all of them except me have children) and a caption that listed the names of all their children and talked about them as the next generation.
Now there is absolutely no reason at all why those pictures and that caption shouldn’t have been there; their kids are a part of their life, and a part of their friendship — our lives, our friendship. But it made me cry (and actually makes me cry now just thinking about it) and maybe it’s the oestrogen (yup, another cycle, on which more later) or maybe it was because seeing the names of their children written down in black and white made me feel excluded in a way that I don’t often feel in real life.
Maybe it made me feel like I wasn’t really one of the gang because I haven’t had kids (which I know they would hate me to feel) or maybe it made me feel like they had a legacy in a way that I don’t. Whatever the reason, I suppose it was just a bit of a reminder that I’m not always as OK about things as I like to think I am. That sometimes it’s the little unexpected things that trip you up…
(PS — added 24 hours after I wrote this — in the space of half an hour I was reduced tears by a) Hilary Mantel talking about the fact that Brexit was a tragedy and b) the lyrics of a Taylor Swift song I’ve heard a gazillion times before. I think we can probably conclude that the oestrogen might be having an impact on my emotional responses. That’s not to say that my response to the caption wasn’t a valid one but it’s probably worth putting in context.)