And so, as you might reasonably have expected, and as I might have slightly given away in my last post, given how contrarily these things go, the fact that I was so convinced it wasn’t going to work meant that when, on the morning we were going away for the weekend, and I did a precautionary First Response test, it showed the faintest of faint – but still very definitely there – lines.
Or, as I put it to B when I walked back into the bedroom “Well I’m not ‘Not Pregnant’.” But I wasn’t going to get too excited. It was early. It could be a chemical pregnancy. It wasn’t a thing until it was a thing.
But then, when I did another test 48 hours later, that line was definitely darker. And 48 hours after that, the blood test confirmed that, that day at least, I was pregnant. Because that was how I thought of it. That’s how I’ve continued to think about it. On those fertility forums I despise, I’ve seen women talk about being “PUPO” – Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise, but after the miscarriage, after everything we’ve been through, I feel quite the opposite. I feel like “that day I know I was definitely pregnant but until the next blood test / scan, I can’t assume I still am.”
We decided to hit and hope and go ahead with the cycle, albeit in a slightly different way.
B and I had discussed whether we would transfer one or two embryos. We’d looked into the risks for the babies and the mother of a twin pregnancy. We’d looked at the statistical likelihood of a singleton or twins from two transferred embryos. We’d talked about the fact that if we were lucky enough to have one child and had embryos left, I was probably too old to try for a sibling in a few years. We’d talked about the pros and cons of only children and siblings. And we’d talked about the fact that we had ten quality embryos. Ten embryos is a total gift. But, as I explained to my consultant when we’d initially discussed this, me trying not to cry at the thought of how many negative pregnancy tests I had the emotional capacity to deal with. (I know, I know, I’ll talk more in another post about the impossibility of thinking positive when you’ve been through what I’ve been through.) “I know me, I know what I’m like, if we have ten embryos, I will try until we have nothing left to try with. And I can’t do ten embryos transfers. Five, yes, ten, no.” And so we’d decided — rather against her advice — we would transfer two.
Before I get on to the what happened next bit, I feel like I need to talk about this stuff. And when I say “stuff” I guess I broadly mean about the fertility industry and how it treats women. Arguably, I’ve had more interaction with this industry than most. I’ve heard it referred to as the Wild West, I’ve heard people say that it exploits women, that it uses experimental practices that aren’t proven as cynical money-making ventures, but I’ve honestly never felt I had that experience. You might think that having spent the best part of £100,000 – honestly, I don’t know, I’m guessing, I stopped counting mentally after I figured I’d reached about £50k – trying to have a baby, that I’d feel bitter. But until now, I never felt bitter, I never felt exploited, I never felt like a cash cow. I’ve defended – largely – the industry. For all that I’ve complained in the past that some people working in it seem to forget that their day job is the most important thing in someone else’s life, on the whole, I’ve never felt that decisions that weren’t in my best interest were being made.
I don’t really know how to talk about the next bit because, without wishing to sound overly dramatic, I don’t know what the legal implications are of writing about my clinic and what they did or didn’t do, without giving them a chance to respond to what I’m saying. And I know I’m anonymous and I know I haven’t named them but I’m still wary. So I’m going to try to use quite broad brushstrokes.
I’d felt that there had been communication issues between us and the clinic for a while. Questions going unanswered, inexplicable delays and a lack of a sense of urgency, me having to request tests that I thought they should have already organised, information not being passed on. But I’d kind of sucked it up because everything up to this point hadn’t really been about me, it had been about our donor. I didn’t feel as if I could force issues because maybe there were other things at play. Maybe the delays were down to the donor (which I was totally fine with). Maybe the lack of information was a privacy issue. Maybe, maybe, maybe…
This strange feeling of detachment persisted. We knew what day the donor would be donating because B had to go to the clinic to wank into a cup (it is what it is, so let’s not dress it up as anything else) so her eggs could be fertilised. And while I wanted to know how many eggs they’d got from her, how many had been fertilised, how many had got to day 2, day 5, how many blastocysts, I didn’t have that same desperate-for-the-phone-to-ring anxiety.
Maybe it was that I still felt quite detached from it, but I think a lot of it was also because I feel more sanguine about the whole process. More aware that there’s nothing I can do that will change the outcome so whether I know at 10am that day how many embryos looked healthy, or whether I don’t find that information out until seven hours later makes no odds.
(I have a horrible feeling I published this post out of order, so I’ve reordered it — apologies if you already read an earlier iteration and felt you’d missed a bit, you had.)
When the call came, the number wasn’t in my phone, and a donor was the furthest thought from my mind. We’d had generic email updates from the agency keeping us posted about the impact that the pandemic had had on the recruitment of donors and the possibility of treatment delays, but for me, the whole things was sort of mentally parked. There was comfort in knowing that what happened next was in someone else’s hands. There was nothing we could do about it, it was just something that was happening elsewhere that we had no power or control over, all we could do was just get on with our lives. And so we did. Well, as much as anyone could in the middle of a global pandemic.
And then, of course, there was the global pandemic.
I almost don’t even know where to start with that. Except that it made me think a few things. Firstly I was SO grateful that we had made the decision to use donor eggs before all this started. As the world ground to a halt and IVF clinics shut down, my heart broke for all the women who had planned an IVF cycle with their own eggs, but had no idea when that would ever be possible again.
I’ve not written since July, and what I wrote in July was months out of date, so as you can imagine, what I’m writing now is even more out of date. But I want it written down. Partly because I feel some sense of duty to you, if you’re still following… because I’ve followed blogs and then they’ve tailed off and I’ve felt a bit, well, cheated, it’s like reading a book that someone never finished writing, or getting a library book and finding someone has ripped the last chapters out so you don’t know how it ends.
As I mentioned in my last blog (all those months ago), you can’t run away forever, so I got back from running away, and made a decision that I probably wouldn’t have made if I were on my own. I decided to try to find an egg donor.
When I was single and doing this alone, I had pretty much decided that I wasn’t OK with the idea of trying to become a parent of a child that I had no genetic relationship to. I had said — to myself as much as anything — that I might feel differently if I were in a relationship with someone else but that idea was so abstract, I didn’t have to think about Continue reading
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