IVF is pretty much the shittest thing I’ve ever done.
I really would quite like to have the possibility of another baby in all honesty – just there, on the table, a possibility – but even if someone paid me, I don’t think I could go through it again.
There’s the financial pressure. Tons and tons of money is going into helping your body make a baby. Even if you’re not paying for it (as we weren’t, thanks NHS) that’s a pressure, because you know it’s something you can’t afford on your own. You know you don’t get many shots at this. So you have to be all in. You have to make it count. That pressure is just horrendous – analysing every single thing you eat, take, and do. My brain was pretty much a whirlwind of the best vitamins, the best foods to eat, the amount of activity I should be taking. It never stops, I never felt relaxed, I never felt I was putting enough in.
(I was putting enough in.)
Then, there’s the medications. Will they give you cancer? Quite possibly, no one really knows. But you do it anyway because you’re just desperate for a baby.
Will they give you side effects? Abso-fucking-lutely. Your stomach will blow up like a beach ball, or at least it will feel like it will, and it will hurt, but you’ll be pleased, because that means your ovaries are Responding. So that’s good.
And then there’s the sedation, while they collect the eggs. 23 eggs they got out of me. Through a needle in the wall of my vagina. And some women sleep through it apparently, but others don’t, and they shout all the time… But you won’t remember, so that’s OK, and the nurse will tell you you slept through, but you never know if she was telling the truth or being kind.
And at every scan you are desperate to hear how your ovaries are doing, and after the egg collection the first thing you want to hear is – HOW MANY EGGS? And you have absolutely no control over it, absolutely none at all, but you feel like you might possibly, so you feel vaguely anxious and guilty all the time.
Then if you’re lucky the embryo is transferred. You lie on a cold theatre table with your legs spread and your husband by your hand, and a speculum is inserted, and then you feel a strange pressure while your tiny tiny baby is guided into the uterus. And your husband says your uterus looks like a mouse, so that’s all good.
Then you get to go home. You’re afraid the embryo will fall out, you don’t want to move, that’s thousands of pounds and all your hopes and dreams inside you, but you force yourself to the car, and your husband drives home.
And then you wait.
And you obsess about your body, about every little twinge and change, and you doubt yourself and your body – because after all, it’s not made a baby so far, and all you’ve been told is that your body struggles to make babies. And you try and keep busy for two weeks, while not being so busy that the baby falls out.
And that’s it really, IVF. After that you have a baby or not. I was lucky enough to have two. But something they can never prepare you for is how it feels, being pregnant and having a child after all that. Nobody warned me that I’d be afraid to lose him all through the pregnancy, that I wouldn’t believe I was pregnant, that I would doubt my body. Nobody would tell me how convinced I would feel that we lost him. Nobody would tell me that the memories of the before time never go away. Nobody would tell me how the gratitude sustains. Nobody would tell me my vision would grow a rose tint and I’d so quickly gloss over so much.