Surprises come in different shapes and sizes …. they come when you least expect them… that’s the nature of them really isn’t it. There have been surprises in my life I’ve almost expected, and then whoopers that hit you like a TGV train coming out of Montparnasse station in Paris at 7am. For the most part they’ve been good ones, but there were also a few ones that certainly packed a punch.
The last few months have brought their own surprises…. not the two red lines on a piece of narrow plastic that I was hoping for….. this one came in the human form, out from behind a computer screen. It’s been a surprise that has grown, and stuck with me, that now I feel like it was always there. I’ll explain later.
The other surprise is to have started my first, and probably only IVF cycle, and not be alone, it takes even more getting used to than I thought.
Its two years now since I first decided to go down this road and it’s been such a roller coaster of emotions and events, and yet it seems like yesterday that it all began. This time two years ago I went through my counselling, before choosing my donor in the time leading up to Christmas. I was 99% sure this was for me, I knew if I looked ahead into my future the most important thing I wanted there was a child, someone who called me Mum. Things worked against me in many ways in the following six months, between a hold being put on my donor to having to go away again for the summer for work to increase my deposit as house prices jumped up. A year later I finally got to try the medication and it over stimulated, resulting in a cancelled cycle and a flare up of my Endometriosis that took a good two months to calm down. I did finally buy the house and moved in at the end of January, and got to try a second time last April. Unfortunately despite all the right conditions this time, being relaxed, rested and ready to go, it didn’t work. I took it harder than I thought I would. There is nothing like sitting on the edge of the bed waiting for a second pink line to appear is there?… and that sinking feeling when it doesn’t. May Bank holiday weekend (and my birthday) I found myself surrounded once again by family with kids. Another niece arrived the day I did my IUI in April…. and spending time with friends meant spending time with kids… Frustrated and fed up, I went back on a dating site I had tried before to no avail, don’t know why because I had zero interest in meeting someone really. I had really drawn a line under that but I suppose I was feeling like the baby journey was harder than I thought and it wasn’t going to work either.
Later that evening I started talking to a nurse on his way back from Australia, his marriage had ended 18 months previously because ironically he wanted kids and she didn’t, he was four years younger than me and from the other side of the country. We started chatting and for some reason that conversation continued. I’m skeptical at this point of the online chatting thing because the reality is never what you imagined when you finally meet, compared to what impression you’ve gotten from behind a screen. We talked about meeting but it never happened, and if I’m honest I didn’t think it would. I told him about the Endometriosis, told him about the IUIs….figured I had nothing to loose really, surprisingly conversation continued. But I had been to the doctor and I was determined to go ahead with another IUI. Between various commitments we only met up early June, and more so because I needed a day away from Limerick and agreed to go to Dublin, thinking worst case scenario I go for a coffee, it’s brutal and I’ll go to Ikea for a look on the way home, I’m definitely a true romantic! ;-). We met, had a nice day, easy conversation etc and he made it clear he was interested when I left for home that evening. After much debate with myself, I decided to go ahead with the medications and my next IUI, it may seem wrong but I had put it off for so many reasons or for other people at various stages, I felt I needed to do this for me this time. I said nothing and went ahead. We met the following weekend in Limerick and had another easy, enjoyable day and while I thought it could be something I still got in the car for Cork the following week and went ahead with the IUI…..I kept thinking it would fizzle out somehow. The next time we met I was a week into the waiting time and I couldn’t not tell him at that point, it didn’t seem fair…. so I did, and he stayed calm, contrary to my expectation and while the conversation wasn’t easy, he made it less stressful. He stayed that afternoon, and he stayed that weekend in the spare room, and I figured maybe he was just being nice, that once he got back to Dublin it would all end. Why would he stay? Instead he insisted on being there the following week when I did the test and I can say it hit even harder this time, along with a period from hell so I really appreciated him being there. He nuked the heat-bag and made tea, sat at the end of the bed and talked when I needed to. And somehow despite the odds he’s still here.
End of September I went back to the clinic for a review, I now have a large Endometrioma on my ovary and operating has risks attached of course, the clinic recommended going ahead with one round of IVF and then go from there. There were many discussions, and many tears from me, what if I could never have kids? His last relationship ended because he really wanted them. Was it too soon to be discussing kids after only a few months….. But contrary to my previous relationships, particularly the long term (if 3 years qualifies as longterm) where discussing things was a big deal, this time we discussed it in a relaxed easy way, sometimes in the car on the way to somewhere else, sometimes at night on the couch, and we were both very honest about it all, concerns, fears, priorities, the works. Maybe its the “I’ve nothing to loose” feeling that made me not bother hide any aspect of it, maybe we just met at the right time in both our lives. I also admitted to myself that my biggest fear was it would fail and then suddenly there were no more options.
Now it’s November and we’ve decided life is too short, we’re going to stop analysing it. He’s starting a new job in Limerick and moving down permanently, and I’ve started a long cycle with down regulation meds and I’m back to the joy of stabbing myself nightly with a syringe! My family know and are supportive, come what may. If it doesn’t work, I’ll have the endometrioma removed after Christmas and hopefully cause the least amount of damage to my body, and worst case scenario, I’ll know I have tried. Hard to know what happens afterwards, I imagine it’s very hard to walk away from this whole journey, hard to imagine accepting the fact that no little voice would ever call me mum…. But maybe I’ll figure it out, maybe we will. Already I’ve had to adapt from the IUI’s, there’s someone in the room for scans… this is new! There’s someone else there when you’re in pain and who doesn’t flinch when you talk about your pelvic floor muscles. Maybe by Christmas I’ll have a Baby on Board and maybe I won’t ,but I’d like to think either way I’ll be ok.
I think I’ve finally appreciated just how tough it is to do this on your own, until you see the difference support can make. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s better with a man around, I’m just saying, that one good strong person, or a circle of them is important to have, whether it’s best friends or sisters or a combination, someone to be there makes it seem more doable. It’s strange to think that starting down this road I had said that was it for relationships and yet here I am, in the middle of a new one that’s barely 6 months old but feels like much longer. I’m not stressing, I’m calm, I’m relaxed and I’m just myself. Maybe actually accepting I could do it on my own, brought me to the right frame of mind to meet someone, I don’t know, to be honest I’m not trying to make sense of it. I’ve given him ample opportunity to leave, ample reason to think I’m nuts and do a runner, but he’s still here and he seems to want to stay, so maybe I’d better let him.
I think every woman that starts on this journey to motherhood alone, does it weighing up the pros and the cons, seeing the positives and negatives, trying to source support where they can and learning to deal with the Negative Noras they meet along the way. I believe we’ve all been surprised at reactions just as much as we’ve been surprised at sources of unexpected support.
I take my hat off to each and every one of you, my eyes widen when I read the stories of 3 failed IUIs and another 3 IVFs before baby arrives, I think who are these Warriors that do that?! Whoever thought women were the weaker sex have not met the women in the SMBC group!