Thursday, March 31, 2011

Four years minus nine months, concluded.






And so I sunk. Again. Further. I started a blog, which helped. But not enough. Days were spent staring into the middle distance and the slightest knock would find me locked in the bathroom crying uncontrollably. I wouldn't talk to Nye about it, I wouldn't talk to anyone about it. Reluctantly I made an appointment with the hospital's fertility counsellor and once I made it to the top of the waiting list we met the women who would push us and protect us and make us cry and ultimately, nurse us through more than we thought we could bear. Now, two years later, we owe that woman more than we could begin to put into words; our health, our marriage, our daughters.
But I get ahead of myself. Things were still not good and in May of 2008 (aged 23) I found myself referred to a psychiatric unit. Which was fun.

In a windowless room and with the smell of disinfectant seeping into my very being, I poured out my tears to two women who I would never see again. They decided I was fine. Or rather, that with the right medication I would be. An hour later I was sent home with a prescription and a few months after that I wasn't exactly fine, but I was no longer locking myself in the bathroom.


At the same time I start having monthly injections into my stomach, well, not so much injections as implants. Implants pushed through a bore needle (have you seen an apple corer? Similar.) Designed to push my body into a false and in theory reversible menopause, intended to stop what is left of my ovaries being washed away in the monthly toing and froing of my hormones and preserve them for the future. For it is accepted by everyone that at the moment they are no use to me at all. With a laconic shrug and wave of the hand my consultant brushes away the universally accepted belief that the implants are only safe for six months at a time (something insignificant to do with decreased bone density, osteoporosis, the chance that the aforementioned menopause might become less than false, less than reversible...) and writes me a prescription for 20 months worth, a prescription that makes my GP and the nurses who inject me and the pharmacist who hands over the shopping bags full of industrial sized, pre-loaded needles baulk.

And so the next two years passed. The nurses come to know me by name and every four weeks they ask the same question “how many more?" Eighteen months I reply, fourteen months... ten months. Their eyebrows furrow as they silently turned to double check my notes. Riddled with small round scars my stomach now resembles a map of one of the lesser known constellations

Nye and I get married. We throw ourselves into starting a business that will support us if we ever have a child and will distract us if we don't. There are months that are good, where we carry on not quite as we once were, but close. And then there are months that are bad, months where we cry and we despair and we question whether this wait is worth it, whether the appointments are worth it, whether the boxing match with the unknowable outcome that is IVF is worth it, whether biological children are worth it. We see specialists who sympathise, nurses who are brusque and doctors who resent stepping away from their daytime TV viewing to explain to yet another scared and hurting couple how IVF works. We go to appointments that we have waited a year for, more often than not leaving with tears stinging our eyes and unanswered crowding us like predators as yet again we are told that we will learn more when we reach the top of the list.

There were days, months really, when we planned another life. A childless life. And just like the imaginery one with our baby that we had immersed ourselves in so many years previously, we pictured this one so vividly that it was hard not to be swallowed up by it. We stopped picturing the life we once imagined, the one with three of us, because we just couldn't and so there were times when our new dreams seemed to displace the old ones, seemed to shine more brightly, confusing us with their promises of freedom and adventure. A decision loomed over us; will we do this? Will we sacrifice ourselves to the process? Do we want a child?

And all along, in a tiny airless room perched above the motorway, we continued to pour out our hurts and our worries and our doubts to a women who listened to us and cared for us and took our hurts and our doubts and held them in her own arms so that we could rest for a little while.

And then, after a journey that was much longer than it was supposed to be, after another surgery (no surprises when I came around this time, just a gentle "you're ready, good luck") it was January 2010. I was 25. We had reached the top of the list. All of the maybes and the whens and the in-the-futures were over, it was time to do or die. And there was no decision to be made.

Standing with our toes curled over the edge of the cliff, knuckles white on our desperately clenched hands, we looked at each other and we each asked 'are we going to do this? Are we going to jump?'

And we did.


So that was going to be it, where the story ends, (or rather where it merges into another, new story) you know how IVF goes, the appointments, the drugs, the uncertainty. And I don't know if I mentioned it or not (SPOILER ALERT) but it worked, we had twins. But the fact that writing our story has been helpful to people means so much to me. So, if you think that hearing about the IVF process would be helpful to you, tell me. It might take me a while to write about it (uh, does anyone remember when I started writing this? I did not have babies back then) because although it has been all sorts of cathartic to write this down FUCK has it been draining and emotional and a little like pulling teeth to get the words out.

55 comments:

  1. I have loved reading this series because you're a wonderful writer. If you'd like to write about IVF, I'd love to read it. And I'm sure others would as well. And if you don't, well that's just fine. x

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  2. You are so brave! And you write beautifully. Thank you!

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  3. Heart-achingly unbearable badness and dark times. That your words emerge so beautiful and honest and funny and warm from all that... What a gift. Thank you for sharing.

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  4. Thankyou for all your heart breaking honnesty - it makes me less (and a little more) afraid! But what will be be will be! Enjoy the twins - they are gorgeous!!!

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  5. As Gaby said you're a wonderful writer and as a couple who are on the IVF waiting list with our spot due to come up in December we would be really interested to hear your take on the process (if you can bear to write about it). Congratulations on your gorgeous twins - we can only hope that we end up as lucky! As Katetie says in her comment - what will be will be! x

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  6. Thank you for this. I'd really like to read about IVF if you're up for writing about it.

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  7. You write so bravely, and beautifully. Infertility is not something we have had to face (I don't want to say "yet", although my family history is not exactly encouraging), but I have been on the other side in a relationship with someone who has suffered from depression, and it can be heartbreaking - you feel so helpless. I am beyond happy for you both that you seem to have come out on the other side and those gorgeous girls are finally here. I'm sure you and Nye would have been wonderful as a two, or as a three, but a four! The bestest.

    I find it disconcerting to think that when I was first emailing you, waffling away about our wedding, and leaving you standing outside Kember & Jones for hours (I still feel so bad), that you were going through all of this. Your warmth, enthusiasm and professionalism is just amazing. And then to think that just a few months later, W&P were (kind of)there at our wedding - aww. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Pregnant photographers are the way forward (even if certain rude people did raise their eyebrows when you said you were "only" five months...)

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  8. You're a brave bird. And a frigging good writer. What a scary, sad story with the most beautiful of outcomes. Thanks for writing it. And surely E&A got extra big cuddles after you'd finished writing that.

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  9. Courageous!
    I'm astounded that going through all of that in '08 (was that really THREE years ago??) and beyond, you could still write and be so witty and make the world look so beautiful.

    I'm all for writing everything down, even if you don't share it, it's good for the healing ♥

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  10. You guys are so brave, Josh and I knew from the beginning (or, what I think of as the beginning) that if it had become necessary we wouldn't have thrown ourselves into the process, we just aren't strong enough.

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  11. You are SUCH a good writer, I hope that you will keep writing down your story even if it takes forever.

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  12. Wow so amazing your words are beautiful you should write a book. Beautiful just wiping back my tears inspiring and so genuine x

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  13. Such beautiful writing. You are so brave and definitely an inspiration. x

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  14. You really are a beautiful writer... and your honesty is something so special as well. I'm so glad that this 'story' has a happy ending. Even reading this now, I can picture it all but I can't imagine really how hard it was to go through x

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  15. My goodness! Is there anything you don't do beautifully? Your story is something so grittily difficult, yet you write it with poetry and poise. I would indeed like to read about your IVF.

    I'd even like to read about your trip to the supermarket, because I'm sure you'd make it a delight to read!

    On a less flippant note, putting your story, especially such a personal one, out there like that (no matter how it is written) is very, very brave. Thank you for having the courage to tell it.

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  16. You write so so beautifully - this was incredibly moving and powerful. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. And I'm sorry you had to go through so much crap - but so, so glad that it eventually led to having your two gorgeous daughters. (And I'd love to hear about your IVF experiences, but only if you're happy to share more.)
    xx

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  17. I have been following your blog for some time. Your writing is beautiful. They way you found the strength to share your story is inspirational. I hope you have found it healing. Please do continue to write. And take pictures. x

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  18. You are an amazing writer, the kind that gives me goosebumps and the kind that I am so happy to know that there is a happy ending.

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  19. I am posting this anon but you do know me.

    I would love (if that is the right word) to read about your IVF story. I may at some point in the next six months (depending on what happens) have to make decisions I am not sure I want to make - and I am leaning away from that route. Maybe your story might help?

    I am also so sorry you went through such harrowing times and and too in awe of the beauty with which it spills from the page.

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  20. Your writing is beautiful, poetic, moving and compelling - you have a huge gift for expression and I am sure having gone through the pain of putting all this into words, you will be helping others find strength themselves.

    You have fought so hard for these wonder babes - they are so lucky.

    Keep writing and giving others hope that bleak times can change.

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  21. Of course we want to hear. Of course we want to hear your old soul tell us these things. And thank you for what you've told us already.

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  22. I love that you bare and strong and honest. It's quite beautiful.

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  23. your story is so terrifying and grief stricken, but that silver lining... those beautiful little angles.... it's really a sweet, sweet song you sing.

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  24. You are awesome. There is so much power in the sharing of our stories. The more you tell, the more you help not just those who go through it but everyone who might ever know someone who does. Thank you.

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  25. It's so heartbreaking to reread the first three posts and now this post to hear about how dismissive doctors have treated you. We need more empathy and humanity in the medical field for sure.

    Your story, while so sad, is in the end uplifting and hopeful. You've written it so brilliantly. I am glad writing this was a good cathartic experience for you.

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  26. You and Nye are incredible. You, especially, for the physical *and* emotional stress you went through. I know it's been hard and draining to write about, but I know it's been helpful to so many people to read your story. If you can share the IVF experience, please do.

    Hug those precious babies for me. I'm so glad they're here. <3 y'all.

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  27. Your words are so precious. I love how they stay with me for days after I've finished reading your posts. Thank you so much for writing this. I have weird ovaries as well and it's been so reassuring to read through your experiences.

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  28. Stories are so powerful. And yours are beautifully told, even when heart wrenching. Thank you for sharing, dear.

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  29. Your writing about such a cruel unhappy time is just so honest. It should be read (as I have said before ) by everyone who is in the medical world. If you feel that you can write about what is a mixture of so many emotions that come with IVF then I know you will do it beautifully but only you can decide if you wish to do so.
    Thank you.

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  30. My heart is full to bursting - with sorrow, that you had to go through this; with admiration, that you were still able to make the world seem to incredibly full of light and joy even when you yourself were not; and with unadulterated joy for the now, knowing how near-impossible that now once seemed.

    And I love your words as much as I love your images. And you know I love them dearly.

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  31. I'm really glad you found the time and strength to write all this. It will help me to help others I know in similar situations. Love to you and your adorable little family.x

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  32. I'm exhausted! I can't imagine how you must feel! As someone trying to decide whether we want children or not... and considering it is likely that the process for us would be a lot easier. I want to know honestly honestly honestly. Is it worth it? I know that sounds callous and weird probably.. Thanks for sharing your storie Peonies. *s*

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  33. cara. you're beautiful and courageous. and you're living an amazing life story. i admire you.

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  34. This series of posts has been especially moving and upsetting to me, of the same 4 scars of endo. I am so glad you have written this final chapter but it saddens me to hear your experience. How lucky you were to find that lady above the motorway.

    And for the record, I would love to read your IVF story. Writing like you do, it would undoubtedly help many many many of us.

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  35. Love. And thank you. And I'm so glad they are here.

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  36. This post series has been beautiful and inspiring. Such a brave thing to go back and write about it, it must of been like living it again. Thank you for sharing.

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  37. What an inspiring story. Thank you for sharing your honest words. It is very refreshing and welcoming to read something so beautifully written in the blogosphere. There are a lot of bad writers out there...

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  38. Dear Peonies,

    I have been following your blog ever since I stumbled on it by chance 2 years ago. I've always been too scaredy cat to comment, but this post was so brave I couldn't not say hi.

    So hello. I think you're the nuts.

    And thank you for making me smile when I've felt shitty, and you felt even shittier.

    x

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  39. Wow. You're amazing Peonies. And there is such power in the telling of it.

    Somebody seriously needs to give you a book deal to turn this into a novel. Seriously!

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  40. I love you. That's all I could think when I finished reading this, and I'm so glad you and Nye were able to have babies. You're incredibly brave and incredibly resilient. (And as others have mentioned, an incredible writer)

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  41. I can't tell you how sad I was when you said you'd be taking a break from blogging after having the babies. I'm so glad that it wasn't much of one! your stories, words, photos, everything are an inspiration.
    Actually, the part that reaches out to me the most is about your counselor. I've been debating whether or not to pursue therapy/counseling as a career path and your words hit me, hard. To help someone through what you've been through, to help carry their burden and make it through to the other side... I can't imagine what else I should be doing. Thank you.

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  42. You would make a beautiful friend. Your words are wonderful, and sweet, and poetic. You are honest, and real. The sweetest ingredients to a friend x
    following..

    kisses,
    amy !
    www.amyflyingakite.com

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  43. “Come to the edge,” she said.
    They said, “We are afraid.”
    “Come to the edge,” she said.
    They came.
    She pushed them . . . and they flew.

    ~ Guillaume Apollinaire

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  44. Wow. Great writing.

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  45. Thank you so much for your blog. And most especially for this series. I promptly started reading your story after a friend told me about your blog and your journey with endometriosis. I too have had endometriosis (for many years I was in pain but didn't know why.)Now, three operations and 6 months of those horrid horrid injection later (how did you endure 20 months??!!) I am all but fixed (well fingers crossed.) I am now in love with an amazing man and hope that one day we can have a baby as cute as one of yours!(fingers crossed.)Reading your story has meant a lot to me and I have been able to connect with so much of what you have gone through. Your writing is raw and honest and ultimately uplifting. You really do have a gift with words. Thank you for sharing. Your story has given me a sense of extra strength.

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  46. As always, so beautifully written.

    I'm so glad that at the end are those two little gorgeous bubbies you both deserve so much.

    X

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  47. Peonies,
    Since you asked - If its not too terrible for you to write - I, for one, will be on tenterhooks to read! I have been following your blog for over 2 years, after getting married (at the same time as you) - and have also been trying for a baby since then with no luck and a lot of heartache. We are going to be starting IVF soon, and I am really scared. I cannot describe to you how much it means to me to be able to hear your story, and how I have waited with bated breath for each of these posts. I have only told my family about what my husband and I are going through - and it can be really hard doing this 'alone'. Plus, to hear it from someone who I think (from afar) is really really cool, beautiful and all round awesome - makes it somehow that much better! So, yes, your writing does make a big difference to at least one person (and evidently many more than that besides) -THANK YOU! I personally hope that you continue, however pulling teeth doesn't sound like fun, and I certainly would understand if you don't feel like doing it anymore.
    xxxx

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  48. yes! more please! this gives me hope.

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  49. You, lady, can write. I'd be interested to read pretty much anything you had to say.

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  50. Been a reader of your blog since almost its beginning, drawn in by your beautiful photos. I've really appreciated reading this series, as someone of similar age who worries they may have to make similar choices sometime in the not too distant future. Amazingly gracefully written, and inspiring. If you wanted to write it it would be wonderful to hear more about the process, but on the other hand I completely understand that its incredibly personal, and you are identified on the blog, and , as will be evident from all the anonymous comments from people in similar situations, its something thats hard to talk publically about.
    Its easy for readers to wish that someone else talk about something so painfully personal, but it doesn't show any lack of bravery or honesty if you'd prefer not.

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  51. This is one of the most powerful posts I've ever read. I'm sooooo happy the girls are here. Love you!

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  52. heart. thanks for sharing your journey.

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  53. I read these posts all the time. I read them when I need help from someone that has done this, all of this. When I need to know that there can be an end. A happy ending. When I need to know that someone has had all those emotions and doubts in between. The bargains. The Lows. The trying. and trying. and trying and trying. and all that Dissappointment. Your posts are far and beyond the most Real account of infertility that I have ever read; no mention of magic baby dust.
    I am unexplained and starting my first IVF on monday.

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play nice.