Buckle up, you're in for a bumpy ride.....
An open letter to my friend. This week you have embarked on a journey that could change your life forever. I say "journey", I always hated that word, it seemed so cliched, like a talent show wannabe who is on the "journey of their lives" all because they want to murder a song in front of Cowell and his henchmen.
This however is a little more than all that. You've started IVF, a process that has so much hope, so many dreams but combined with just so much doubt and fear. I'm talking from experience, this time seven years ago I was just beginning my IVF "journey" and about to take delivery of what seemed like the biggest haul of medical equipment I'd ever seen, and coming from a Type 1 diabetic, that was some kind of feat. Needles, tablets, syringes, along with tubes and vials full of the magic liquid that was going to help me produce everything my body couldn't on its own. You feel a little like a mad scientist mixing up ampules and powders, drawing it up with a needle that would make the toughest person grimace, then summoning up courage before jabbing it in your flesh accompanied by a silent prayer. (Oh and as for that final injection, the bad boy that doesn't want to go into flesh but muscle, yeah that's fun. Be prepared to turn fifty shades of green.)
See all this stuff that you're injecting into your body? Basically hormones. This stuff will send you all kinds of crazy. Warn your partner, who may have seen you at your most hormonal, throwing things around, demanding chocolate that this could be very different. I say different, I mean another level. You may find yourself crying at the utter frustration of not being able to open a packet of biscuits. (True story) Or sobbing until you can't breathe because you've run out of dishwasher tablets. (Again, true) All normal. These potions they've given you are something else. They could create a life and they're damn sure they're not going to make it easy for you.
Pretty soon you'll be strutting off to the hospital for the next invasion of privacy. (Did I mention that part? Say goodbye to all your hangups and boundary issues.) Egg collection. Yes, you feel like a chicken. A stroppy, hormonal, slightly fat chicken except you can't cluck and ruffle your feathers in a huff. No need, this bit is good. This involves drugs of a different kind. Happy ones. I felt as though I had prosecco coursing through my veins and I have to say it wasn't entirely unpleasant. Once the eggs are collected, you are sent on your way home to sit on your perch (although I'd recommend something a little softer if you catch my drift) and wait to see how they do once they've been popped into the test-tube and start "cooking" for the next few days.
I won't lie. This part is stressful. This is the bit where you've done the science bit of injecting, measuring, attempting to drink more water than ever before and it's now totally out of your hands. This is the part when you don't know whether the test-tubes will result in multiple embryos, one embryo or none at all. As much as I hate to refer back to my earlier remark of X-Factor, this is well and truly the "roller coaster of emotions" part. I know, as if the other bits haven't been??
They'll call you, they'll let you know how many viable ones you have and when you need to return to have them transferred to their new home - you. Some may be strong little ones, some weaker, some may not have made it to this point but I hope and pray you have at least one. One to celebrate in two long weeks time in the hope that it becomes a real little person.
Because this next part is the waiting game. The longest two weeks of your life and there is absolutely nothing you can do to speed it up. I'm not going to tell you how you can get through it, or how to "take your mind off things" because everyone handles things differently but time will pass and you will find out if this journey has just begun or if it was a road that wasn't to be this time.
Everyone has opinions on how you should cope, how you should deal with it. Everyone has the "helpful" things that they say to people when they tentatively admit they are going through IVF treatment. "It'll happen for you, I can feel it" Not helpful. And unless you are Mystic Meg herself, possibly incorrect. Or "You could have twins, then you won't know what's hit you" Again, not the most helpful - I'm fully aware that this could result in a multiple birth, it'd save me doing it again, my family would be complete and I'd actually bloody love it thank you. Or the worst one that I had once "God, you can have my kid, he / she is doing my head in." Er......... I'm not even about to address this "Wrong On All Levels" one.
So I will just say this. Because I have already cheesily referred to this as a "journey" and a "rollercoaster" I'll go with this.
"No one said it would be easy but it would be worth it."
Cheesy? Oh God yes. But true. And all you need to know is how proud I am that you're on this little road of chaos, doing all you can to start your family. I'm right beside you. xxx
Disclaimer - If you are looking for a step by step guide to IVF treatment this is not it. All procedures described are what I went through and could be very different for different people. All views, love and good wishes are my own.