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.”
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.
Back sometime before the last Ice Age, we’d made the decision that we were going to try to conceive with donor eggs. OK, maybe it wasn’t that long ago, but it was pre-pandemic, pre-accidental-natural-unexpected pregnancy, pre-totally-predictable miscarriage, and so as a result it does feel like aeons ago. Even if it was only just over a year ago. Because since then we found (or rather the agency found us) the Mary Poppins donor who wasn’t, and the Mary Poppins replacement that didn’t fill us with joy. And then two days after I’d had it confirmed that I’d definitely miscarried, the agency got in touch with a suggestion of someone else.
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
If you’re here because you read my piece in the Daily Mail today, hello! Thanks for coming to visit. If you’re here because you’ve been following and got notified that there was a new post, welcome back.
I hope you’ve all been having lovely summers. I have. I’ve mostly been living my life as if Continue reading
I was so much more emotional about the embryo transfer than I expected to be. I guess it’s because it’s a whole year since the last one and when I think what I’ve been through in that year, and how hopeful and optimistic and excited I was this time last year, it’s hard not to feel that even getting to this point is a culmination of so many things, and yet that there is so much further to go.
I didn’t know the consultant or the nurse, but they were both so lovely, as I lay on a bed with my legs in stirrups and tears pouring down my face. Continue reading
So Saturday eventually rolled around and with it another egg retrieval procedure. My sixth. I’m almost blasé about them now. I kind of love the sedation (although after the last time I made sure to let the anaesthetist know that it would be just good manners to make sure I stayed sedated until after all digits and instruments had been removed from every orifice.)
It was a natural cycle and, despite my late night Cetrotide, it didn’t seem to interfere with the Ovitrelle, because they managed to retrieve one good-looking egg, which of course is cause for celebration because one is better than none. But in this game nothing is really cause for celebration. Or everything is. Because there are so many hurdles. And you have to clear all of them, in succession, to get to where you want to be. Continue reading
So I came back from my holiday, went for a scan, and then later in the week there was a whole load of last minute fucking about that made me wonder — yet again — how on earth anyone who doesn’t work for themselves does this.
The call at about 4pm on a Thursday went something like this:
“So your bloods suggest that you might be near ovulating so can you do an ovulation test and then call us back with the results? If you are, you’ll have to have the egg collection tomorrow and we’ll have to work out what time you do the Ovitrelle tonight, and if you’re not then it will be on Saturday and if it’s on Saturday you’ll have to stay up until quarter to 1 tonight and do the Ovitrelle injection, but you also need to do the Cetrotide injection when you get home tonight, oh and start taking the Indomethacin straight away but don’t take it on an empty stomach. Anyway, just call us back when you’ve done the ovulation test.” Continue reading