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.