Love isn’t cancelled
Music isn’t cancelled
Dancing isn’t cancelled
Progress isn’t cancelled
Meditating isn’t cancelled
Dreaming isn’t cancelled
Self-care isn’t cancelled
Reading isn’t cancelled
Having fun isn’t cancelled– @insta_holaa
What a year it has been already… and I am really not sure why and how a non-UK Mother’s Day has triggered me. I don’t remember being this triggered in March when it was the UK Mother’s Day but in the lead up to today (Sunday) I have just not been myself. Even my husband asked me today if I was okay because I’ve been “a bit off for the last 2/3 days”. I told him I didn’t know how I felt and truth is I don’t but there is something about going through Mother’s Day after spending 2 months on hormones to produce eggs, having an egg retrieval, only to be told weeks later that everything is now on hold indefinitely due to COVID-19. On top of all this, my grandfather passed away during this time and my puppy died only days after our treatment was put on hold. I mean can a girl get a break!? So I did take a break for about 3weeks I switched off the part of me that is always preoccupied with baby-making and I just got on with my life like I wasn’t planning on having a family. This is after a lake full of tears and silence and more tears and just silence. I am never quiet so when I’m silent, things are really not okay.
And guess what? The ‘switch off’ time was quite literally the best few weeks I have had in a while. I zoned in fully into working from home and working out and I have a really good balance and consistency now. I even got a pay-rise during this time which is testament to how much I gave in to my work life. I felt great, I felt so balanced – something I am always striving for and I just started to really see myself again. Not through the lens of ‘you are not a mother yet’ but more ‘sister honey girl, your life is full and it is wonderful just the way it is.’ Being in lockdown has meant I have spent more time with my husband than usual and that too has been wonderful, and it has been enriching to spend time together without the ‘baby making’ cloud over our heads… just chatting like old pals and reconnecting without the burden of timed injections, hospital visits and the horrible waiting has been the break that I didn’t know I needed.
For such a long time I had reconfigured my life to fit around ‘baby making’ that so much of my Self was lost in the process but when you’re in it you really don’t realise it. My first day in my new job on the 6th of Jan was my first day of IVF! I remember having to call my new boss to ask her if it would be okay for me to start a bit later on my first day, my first few weeks in the job were filled with hospital appointments all of which had to be during the work day usually mid-morning and in February I missed my first board meeting because I had a week off for my egg retrieval. I am lucky that I landed wonderful bosses who have been incredibly supportive of our IVF but I say all this to paint the picture of how IVF consumes you. So this break, although forced upon us, has really been that pause that we never stopped to take for the last 3 years of journey. And only now it is making sense to me.
I was doing so good because everything was out of my control until they announced that clinics could apply to reopen from 11th of May. And all those feelings I parked on the 17th March after crying myself tired literally just came back flooding and are damn near drowning me at this point… I was doing so good and now I have the added layer of weighing the risks of C-19! We have all seen the stats that suggest black people are more likely to die from C-19 than their white counterparts, add the cases of the black pregnant women who died (may they rest in peace). My clinic hasn’t even called me yet and I do not know what their plans are but these are all factors I now have to consider in addition to the factors that already come with IVF and pregnancy in general. Needless to say, I am freaking the fuck out! On the one hand having a baby is everything I have ever wanted, on the other hand do I want to try to get pregnant with the added anxieties around C-19?! My husband’s protective instincts have already kicked in and he feels so strongly about the risks of C-19 and thinks we should wait. The situation is less clear in my mind, while C-19 gave me the pause I definitely needed it is now putting this horrible hesitation in my mind about how much I want to have a baby and at what cost? The effects of C-19 are making me question the one thing I never thought I would even have a second thought about.
Mother’s day when you have all these thoughts in your head hits differently. I was off all social media when the UK one came and I think for as long as I am not-pregnant I might make it a point to be off social media in the lead up to and on all Mother’s Days. The strongest feeling was that I felt bad for being triggered by other’s people’s day of joy and gratitude and actually, I think a lot of people don’t get this about the #ttcgang, when we are triggered by your mummy joy we genuinely feel so bad and it is that guilt that eats me up more than anything. The second feeling was that reminder; another Mother’s Day and I am not pregnant, and I don’t even know when the possibility might be real again. C-19 took away the mere possibility from me and when you are trying to conceive by assisted means, the possibility is quite literally ALL you have. My sister-in-law tells me off for saying our IVF was cancelled, she always corrects me with ‘postponed’ but without the pending possibility, to me it has felt like it’s been cancelled, much like 2020 so far!
Up until today I hadn’t realised that I had never even entertained the thought of me being pregnant. My default coping mechanism is to not let my mind go there at all… I have not even imagined what a pregnant belly would look like on me, or what my baby’s nursery will look like or even who the baby will look like. The minute we got news we would be starting IVF my husband already started compiling a list of essentials, the only reason I got involved was because I had to help him make sure everything was on the list otherwise my coping mechanism just won’t let me go there. People say things like you have to envision it to fruition, but those people will not be there when I need to drag myself out of a dark hole when disappointment strikes. My embryo transfer would have been around this time and the only thing I had done which even now seems so stupid to me is I had bought a couple of floaty work dresses for ‘when I start to grow’. That’s as far as I will allow my imagination because it’s a practical alternative to my work jeans (well seemed so at the time). All that day-dreaming about my pregnancy and being a mum blah blah blah can never be me. I am not strong enough for that and that is why Mother’s Day today was so difficult because my timeline was filled with those kinds of images and theirs were actual REAL.
I’ve also been thinking about the similarities between most people’s experience of C-19 and my experience of IVF; much of it feels like you are in a trap where you are literally hoping for the best, a big part of it is just a waiting game with absolutely no guarantees, both mess up with most of your plans and take away life’s small pleasures. I think for the first time, the world is experiencing what most women going through IVF feel – a shutdown of sorts of life as you knew it and a long game, seemingly unending and all you can hold onto is hope. IVF does not physically kill you but the emotional ride that comes with it can kill your spirit, even when nothing is happening AND in the context of normal life that must carry on. I remember having a split second moment when my puppy Leo was hit by a van and died where I really felt I was going to lose it – it is less about the puppy and but more about the lack of control over one’s own fate. I had to decide very quickly in that moment which path I wanted to take and sometimes it is not about choosing to do or be better, sometimes it is about saying I CAN’T do this anymore and I WON’T. And just checking out – taking time out to restore, recover, refill. And reminding oneself that not all is lost or cancelled.
I cannot tell you what is next for me/us. I wish I could say ‘yes we are definitely going ahead as soon as they call’ or ‘no we are waiting until they have more data to base their contingency planning on’ but I can’t say either. In true coping mechanism fashion, I will deal with it when I get the call from the clinic i.e. when it becomes real. My husband was keen to agree a decision about it and I said to him we’ve been doing this trying to conceive thing for a while and if there is anything I have learnt is not to get ahead of myself. I could make a decision about proceeding with treatment and spend the next few weeks anticipating the call from the clinic and struggling to sleep etc due to worry or excitement or I can just surrender to the now and hear what their plan/process is when they call and make a decision then. They may even call to say they are not reopening, or they are not doing transfers and I would have invested in a possibility that is taken away from me, again. My only focus now, is WHAT IS REAL RIGHT NOW.
Sending love to all my IVF sisters… whatever decision you take, it is yours to make. We have made it this far and although it may not always seem like it, we have so much more in us to carry on. All my love & all the Light x