Our first cycle was going really well to start off with. I had taken two weeks off work so I could concentrate fully on the whole process, so I had no stress. I had been injecting daily the same time, done everything to the book. I had cut out caffeine and was living like a bloody rabbit eating so healthy. It was the second week when it all went south. I went in for a routine internal scan, which by the end of the IVF process you will be sick to death of! And it seemed my follies were growing too big? The nurse seemed concerned but reassuring said it could be controlled, so I was instructed to reduce down to half the dosage I was currently taking. So that meant two ampoules instead of four.
I left the clinic concerned but not overly worried as the nurse didn’t seem too worried about it, so I carried on with the process and was due to be scanned in two days.
On the Thursday I got a phone call from the clinic to say I should bring someone with me to the appointment. Instantly I knew it was bad news, but I still didn’t accept it. I still told myself “it will be fine” I don’t think I wanted to admit it myself so just played it down. My hubby was stuck in work so my Mum came with me. And it was usual process go into scan room, get scanned, sit back in waiting room until the nurse calls you. I went back into the waiting room to my Mum who had been staring at the same page in a magazine the whole time, she must have known. But still I was my chirpy happy self, kept telling myself this will be fine!
The nurse called us and my heart hit the floor, this was it we would find out. We sat down and the nurse said “I’m glad you have your mum with you, we are going to abandon this cycle, your follies were growing too quickly so we reduced your dosage to slow them down but sadly we reduced it too much and they haven’t grown at all since” I didn’t process any of it, the nurse proceeded to tell me scientific lingo and explain the process, but I wasn’t hearing a word she was saying. I sat there smiling at her just agreeing. It was as if my mind had left my body and my body was sat there smiling keeping calm and not showing emotion, but inside I was distraught. My Mum was asking questions and I could hear the mumbles but it was like I was underwater and their conversation was muffled. The nurse said that I had 18 eggs but they would just let my body disperse of them naturally and that I needed to have two periods before we could start the whole process again. She apologised and said she knows it will be hard to digest, handed me some forms and we left. That was it all over.
I didn’t cry? I couldn’t My mum hugged me and she was crying but I couldn’t, “its fine, I’m ok” I said. We walked back to the car and decided to go for a coffee, “well its fucked up now anyway so I may aswell have fucking caffeine!” My husband still didn’t know any of this, how was I going to tell him, how can I tell him that my body had fucked up the whole process and it was my body’s fault? Me and Mum went into Costa ordered our drinks and sat down, I had the biggest creamiest hazelnut latte known to man and a big huge chocolate muffin! And everyone was there just sat enjoying their morning, going about their business and here I’m sitting in complete devastation and shock. Me and Mum hadn’t really spoke a word to each other on the journey to the coffee shop. And I sat down and just burst into tears, I couldn’t talk I didn’t want to talk, I just wanted to cry. So I sat there like a crazy woman in costa along with my Mum both balling our eyes out like two weirdos, safe to say no one sat on the table next to us! I still don’t remember if we spoke its all a blur, I just remember crying both of us crying and hugging each other. I had to then phone my husband and tell him to come home asap, that it wasn’t good news but I needed to see him to tell him.
Mum and me drove home both in shock but trying to pretend that it wasn’t that bad. Hubby was there when I got in, and I couldn’t even tell him. I just cried, I couldn’t actually tell him the words, the words that I didn’t want to even speak, the words that I couldn’t admit to myself. My Mum had to tell him what had happened while I sat and sobbed. Now my husband is the most level-headed person around and never ever shows worry or stress, my total rock when I have my many meltdowns, and he just calmly said “that’s fine, we can just try again next time, don’t be too upset”. And that was it. Mum got a phone call from my Dad and he said a line that has stayed with me ever since “It takes time to make a masterpiece”. Nothing else needed to be said, my Dad had said it in one perfectly poetic line.
And that was it all done after a day everyone went back to normal, hubby was up and off to work, I had taken off two weeks to be fully committed so I had no reason to get up early. It was done, cycle abandoned 18 eggs lost, my hopes and dreams crushed with such ease. Everyone seemed to be fine, but me I was a total mess and looking back I think I should have had counselling. I just couldn’t function, I didn’t want to see people I didn’t want to go out, I didn’t want to eat. I was just confused and angry. I hated my body and felt like my mind was separate to my body, I hated my body like it was someone else. My body had let us down, my body had caused this, my body was useless and couldn’t have a baby, my body had let me down in the worst way possible. I wasn’t a real woman how could I be? A real woman can have a baby. I was angry with myself and angry I had even bothered to start the IVF process, angry I had got my hopes up. My hubby was trying his hardest to help me but I just was just consumed in this dark energy.
I vividly remember lying in bed and watching my husband sleep angry, angry that he could sleep, “did it really mean that little to him that he can sleep?”. I sat there in the darkness crying, just sat in bed with my husband next to me but completely alone in my thoughts, I didn’t want him to know how much I was struggling and I didn’t want my family to know either, so I just pretended like I was ok. I felt empty all the hopes I had all the scenarios I had played in my head, all gone. I sat in the darkness and deleted all my pictures on my phone of prams I wanted, nurseries I liked, baby names I had saved on Pintrest, I deleted the lot. For me it was over, I was never going to be a parent. And I wrote an Instagram post, one that when I read to this day upsets me and transports me back to them emotions and hurt.
Family and friends were positively onto the next cycle planning things and working out dates when the “baby” might be born, they had all got over it, but not me I couldn’t even think of starting this bullshit again, I hadn’t even got over the failed round. How could they just move on like that like it was nothing? “when baby’s born” jesus there probably wont even be a baby not with my body.
The one thing that killed me throughout the IVF is the uncertainty of it all, nothing is certain, nothing is 100 percent, nothing is guaranteed. Your building your hopes and dreams on something that actually might not ever happen. And to have a failed cycle of IVF you see how scary a prospect that is. I have always been so positive as a person always a glass half full, always a “dreamer” as I’ve been told on various occasions. If I want something I make it work, but this, this I couldn’t control, this I couldn’t make happen with hard work and determination and that for me was the hardest part. This was all out of my control. I might never have that pram, that nursery, that child to take to castles and to the seaside and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
Deciding to try again was a really hard decision for me to make, I didn’t want to. Why would I, I didn’t want to build my hopes up for them to be shattered again, no thanks I would rather not try. Emotionally I wasn’t ready to deal with it all again and I didn’t want to put my body through the hundreds of injections, the endless scans and blood tests for it all to fail again. My husband really wanted to try again and was adamant we should. But for me I needed control, so if I was going to do it again I needed to do it my way, “fuck you IVF I’m in charge!” So I agreed to start the whole crappy process again but I went in negatively, I went in with the attitude “it isn’t going to work anyway so I’m not going to follow the rules”. And I feel terrible to say I didn’t follow the rules, I drank the odd glass of wine, so what, I had caffeine, who cares? I went out with friends, I worked through the whole process. I didn’t care if work was stressful, IVF wasn’t important anyway so it was last priority. Sometimes I didn’t inject on exactly the same time each night silly things made me feel like I had control. It was my way of controlling it, at least this time if it didn’t work I could say “well I drank caffeine, I didn’t rest enough, I drank wine so that must be why it didn’t work”. I would have a reason, I could say “well Nicola you didn’t really put effort in and follow the rules so it’s no wonder it didn’t work” I could blame myself and move on. I found it easier having my actions to blame for it not working than to have no one and nothing to blame. If it was my fault and my actions at least that was a reason, better than unexplainable.
I know now how I treated the second cycle was totally wrong and I seriously don’t advise you drinking wine, caffeine and been a negative angry bitch as a way of getting a successful IVF cycle. But it was the only way I could actually get through the whole process again and keep my sanity, to distance myself from it and protect my emotions, not to build my hopes up.
Even now typing this its hard reliving those dark feelings and I will never forget that overwhelming fear at the prospect of not actually been a parent, that fear will live with me forever. But they say “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” I don’t know about stronger but I have definitely become more resilient.