When I started this blog I wanted it to be a true reflection of our fertility treatment journey. Fertility treatment is about more than going through a process of drugs, scans, egg retrievals and embryo transfers. It is about the person as a whole, mind & body. It is about the people we meet along the way & the relationships that come and go. This post is about where I am with all of that right now.
I met someone new this week who has given me a different way of looking at what I have been through. Its amazing how a few sentences can bring a change of perspective.
One of my favourite musicals is Wicked. I don’t know why, it just is. The words to one song always resonates with me, they always have…
I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
I’m a huge believer that people come into our lives at the right time. Some stay for a while, others just appear and disappear again. I find that people enter when they are supposed to and leave when they are supposed to. I honestly didn’t think anyone could teach me something new about myself where my own fertility journey is concerned. I was wrong.
During my very first counselling session nearly 2 years ago, after I had given a whirlwind tour of our fertility treatments to that point, my counsellor observed that I was traumatised. All the years of treatment and embryos not implanting had meant that time after time I have suffered one trauma after another. When she used the word trauma, I honestly thought it was a bit strong. Yes, I’d been through a lot, felt like I’d lost something (even though I never had it in the first place), yes my heart was broken into a thousand pieces & I couldn’t see how I was ever going to feel ok again, but traumatised, a bit OTT maybe? I have heard the word a few more times during my counselling sessions but I haven’t quite been able to relate to that word being in my world. I have of course been in denial for a long time about the impact of infertility on me and its taken many sessions for me to truly open up about the devastation that it has caused in my life. We have also talked more recently about the mind and body connect, both have to be in balance and it is clear that I’m not quite there yet with the balance.
And so this week, I met someone new for acupuncture. I was reluctant to find someone new but circumstances dictate that I can’t see the person I have seen previously. I was gutted about that because she has been an important part of my journey thus far. I’m hoping acupuncture can help me stay balanced through our upcoming cycle, as it has done previously. As with all of the professionals I meet about our fertility struggles, I have to go through the last 7 years with a fine tooth comb, reliving each and every cycle that didn’t result in a positive pregnancy test. When I got to the end, she put her pen down, sat back in her chair and said something that I’d heard before
“You have suffered so much emotional and physical trauma, how have you coped”
As she said the word trauma, I was sent back to my first counselling session. A thought flashed through my mind, 2 people in my life saying the same thing, it can’t be coincidence, its time to take notice and acknowledge the trauma that I have been through repeatedly. I sat there and wondered why the hell I was about to put myself through this again, why do I want to go through that trauma again. There is a simple answer, I don’t want to go through it again but hubby and I would like a family and to have a chance of achieving that I have to do IVF.
Our conversation continued. Talking about our IVF cycles she asked me about the outcome of FET number 5, I said, that one failed too. She looked straight at me and said that she never wanted to hear me say the word failure again. In her view, it brings a negativity that is hard to shake off. In that moment I knew she was right. In using the word “failure” I’m setting myself up to feel like I’m the one that has failed. I have not failed because our embryos did not implant. The reason I ended up in some very dark places previously was because I felt like I had failed. Our embryos not implanting is not a reflection on me or anything I have done or not done. It is what has happened. Its not my fault. And so as I prepare for a new cycle, I have found myself with new grief, acknowledging the loss of our embryos. And that makes me sad. Sad more than words can describe. I still need to grieve for our 12 precious embryos that didn’t make it to this world, even though we wanted them so much. Its ok that I still need to grieve. I will never stop thinking about them. Its probably hard to understand the position I find myself in and that’s ok. No-one else needs to understand. They were our embryos, part of us, me and hubby, and they are gone.
You will never hear me say or write again that it failed or that I failed. I can no longer use that word when talking about our fertility struggles and everything that we have been through. I am not a failure because I can’t get pregnant. I am many other things, but I’m not a failure.
The third moment of enlightenment came with a conversation about me not thinking treatment will ever work for us. Why would it, it hasn’t so far? Each time I think about an IVF cycle I relive the one before and the one before. Its all negative. It is the impact of suffering repeated trauma. It is something I have talked about in counselling, that I don’t believe I will ever be able to get pregnant, and I have worked to try and understand the connection between mind and body but I’ve never really managed to understand why I feel physically tense when I think about IVF. The person I was sat with explained that if I hold negativity about what has previously happened then my whole body will react to this negativity, it will become tense and so things may not work quite the way they should. She said that I need to let go of the past and move forward positively without the dark cloud of the previous cycles hanging over me, both physically & emotionally. Yep, she is right about that too. This hit me like a bolt of lightening. This has to change, I have to continue to change. I have changed so much since my breakdown but I know I still have a way to go to being healed. I need to heal physically as well as continue to heal emotionally (and I have already come along way on the emotional front).
We talked about whether I was ready for another IVF cycle. I started to get a little angry because I’m ready and I’m committed to this next cycle, we are doing this, its the right time. As we are doing a freeze all I explained that I know the stimulation cycle is going to be traumatic for me, both physically and emotionally. Mainly because I’m petrified of OHSS and rightly so. Pumping myself full of drugs isn’t ideal and I wouldn’t choose to do it, but I don’t have a choice. After a lengthy discussion, I had my acupuncture session and I felt good when I left. This person has definitely entered my life at the right time & is another person who seems to ‘get it’.
And so once the first part of the IVF cycle is done, it will be time for me to heal myself before we move to a frozen embryo replacement cycle, as long as we get some good quality embryos that is. I have promised myself that I won’t jump into another FET, I will do it when the time is right. After all, this is likely to be our last cycle so I have to make sure that I am ready for it, both physically and emotionally.
This week we also visited the clinic, got my protocol, had blood tests and we are all set to go. My protocol has changed from Gonal F to Menopur. I wasn’t expecting it and Menopur has made me so ill in the past that when I saw it written down I had a panic. This isn’t going to be easy, but lets hope its worth it. I’m starting on 112 of Menopur, which is different to both my previous cycles. I get a blood test on day 4 of stims to see what my E2 is doing and then the dose may change. It already feels like I’m being taken care of. The nurse told me there are notes all over my file about being an OHSS risk and that everyone is aware of it. I was going to ask if they knew of me because of the Twitter blocking incident, but I didn’t feel it was quite appropriate! So, now we wait for day 1 of my next cycle and then make the phone call to ask to start treatment.
We also had a couples counselling session after our prep appointment which helped us both massively, even if it did get emotionally charged a few times. We now know what each of us needs from each other to get through the next 6 weeks. We have never done it before a cycle but I’m really glad we did. We have to be kind to ourselves, to each other and most of all we have to talk. Even if we don’t want to talk for fear of upsetting the other one, we have to say how we are feeling. Its the only way and we are both more than ok with that.
So, for this cycle I have a new perspective and a new approach. No more negativity. No more doubting the clinic. Hubby is firmly by my side, holding me whilst I grab onto him for dear life, going through every twist and turn together, after all this is as much about him as it is about me. We also have our friends and family around us helping us to hold ourselves together as we head into something that I know is going to be traumatic. I also have 2 people walking with me, both helping in different ways to keep me balanced and focussed. Both encouraging me to look after myself, reminding me to be kind to myself and acknowledging that what I’m heading into isn’t going to be easy, but that I’m going to be ok. One is new in my life, the other has been walking with me for nearly 2 years now, I know I need them both in order to stay positive and work through the inevitable melt downs that are going to come over the coming weeks. All of the people that are supposed to be in my life right now are here. In previous cycles hubby and I have closed ranks, tried to do this alone and I certainly haven’t let anyone help me. I have hidden away hoping to get through it as best I can. I cannot do it this time. I know I am surrounded by love and that I have some amazing support. That is all I can ask as we venture into our 9th cycle.
And as I head into another cycle I just have to remember to breathe & remember that I’m going to be more than ok…