I ran away in January. To a place that I didn’t associate with trying and not succeeding. Somewhere I drank wine and stopped worrying about whether I was eating enough vegetables. (I wasn’t.) Somewhere I stopped caring if food was packaged in plastic (it was), or whether the tomatoes were organic (they weren’t). Somewhere my life wasn’t measured out in blood tests and supplements and scans and injections. Where I rudely
ignored the lovely emails and messages and comments you sent after reading my last post — not because I wasn’t grateful, I was so grateful, and so touched — but because for a short while I just wanted not to be the person who’d done three cycles of egg freezing and four cycles of IVF and had nothing to show for it.
Just for a month I wanted to pretend to be someone else, someone carefree, careless, someone who didn’t feel weighed down and overwhelmed by it all.
And, of course, none of it went away. I just buried it, in a little box in a compartment in the back of my brain that I mostly didn’t touch. It wasn’t like I didn’t know it was there. I just fenced it off, decided not to go near it because it made me sad and I didn’t want to feel sad, I just wanted to forget.
Occasionally I’d stray in that direction, and prod it like a bruise, or something would happen that served as a reminder that it hadn’t gone away, that it was still there, waiting to be dealt with, unpacked, revisited, resolved…
But mostly I just turned my back on it, and turned the volume up on my life and drowned out the crap I didn’t want to think about by getting drunk, and eating the unpasteurised cheese, and drinking the caffeinated coffee, and not worrying about taking folic acid and levothyroxine because it felt like none of it really mattered now.
But you can’t run away from real life forever. Apparently. And so I’m back. But the thing about this fertility stuff is that it’s so time sensitive, that you feel there is no time to stop and take stock. I might have allowed myself the luxury of “a month off” thinking about it, but I don’t dare let that month roll into two, or three, or more. I feel like the cliche of the busy woman who says “I can’t be ill, I don’t have time to be ill.” Only in my case “I can’t take the time to reflect on/process/mourn the latest catastrophe in my fertility story, I’ve got to try something else. And soon. That clock is ticking.”
Because even if we’re thinking about donor eggs — and we are, I’m not done yet, we’re not done yet — which technically means there is no time pressure (“You can do it in six months, a year, 18 months,” the consultant told us. “With the right combination of hormones, even a post-menopausal 50-year-old can carry a child”) — I can’t, or won’t, leave it “six months, a year, 18 months” before I start to think about it. In fact when we walked out of the clinic and I burst into tears, that was the first thing I said. Ok, snotted. “I can’t do this in 18 months, if we’re going to do it, we’re doing it now.”
Because I’m so tired of it all. I’m tired, and resentful, and impatient. For the last seven years my life has had a fertility-shaped question mark hanging over it. I want it resolved. I want to know what the rest of my life is going to look like. Whether, it’s going to be the very happy life I once wrote that I could see myself having if I didn’t have a child of my own, or the very different, but very happy life I could have if I did. The not knowing is exhaustive, and corrosive.
And so I’m back, picking myself up, dusting myself down, taking a deep breath and embarking on what I’ve taken to calling “Episode #5432 of ‘How the fuck did this become my life?’”