I didn’t want kids. I was a career woman, perfectly content perusing my dreams, and not doing a bad job of it either.
Then I met my partner. He didn’t think he could have children (let’s just say he’s accident prone). He told me early on in our relationship and it was never a problem.
Then, a year or so later we decided, what the hell, why not, let’s give it a go, see what happens. We made a plan. I was to give up my successful career working behind the scenes in tv and retrain as a teacher. The London commute wasn’t something we felt would work well with little people on our hands. We would renovate our flat and buy a nice home with a big garden.
And so it was. A year later I was qualified and my pill was binned. We moved soon after.
School was stressful. My health deteriorated. I knew something was wrong. After we moved we registered with a new Doctor who immediately sent me for blood tests. Hypothyroid. Excellent, a reason for not getting pregnant. We’d been trying for almost a year. My Doctor is thorough. ‘Best send you for more checks to make sure you’re okay and no damage has been done.’
Another year. That’s how long it took. Scans and X-rays and blood tests. Temping, ovulation kits, herbs, vitamins and Accupuncture featured in between. I’d worked out I was estrogen dominant but my Doctor simply said something along the lines of… ‘Everything looks okay, your progesterone is inconsistent but not a problem. However, your partners sperm isn’t it’s best. IVF for you.’ I knew it!
How could I be a teacher, have this much stress in my life and have successful IVF? Surrounded by children all day. Greeting parents in the playground. Dealing with social services and the parents who couldn’t parent. Why did they get to have children and I didn’t? Insert childish ‘it’s not fair strop here!’ That wasn’t going to happen. I kept saying I was going to leave, as much as I didn’t want to I knew I had to.
We had chosen our clinic and I had our referral. Randomly one day, it hit me. It was real. It was happening. That’s when I did it. One sunny day in January. I was to leave at Easter. As much as they wanted me to stay, tried to convince me to stay. I couldn’t. I would be leaving the teacher in me behind.
Back to tv I went. The relief was immense. The commute didn’t matter anymore, my health did. The flexibility of my job and the autonomy to work to my own schedule (within reason) with the trust I would get my tasks done was a relief. I didn’t have to tell anyone what was going on. I just got on with doing my job…
And the IVF!
We had our first round that spring but it was unsuccessful despite excellent egg retrieval numbers (20) fertilisation numbers (16) and good quaility embryos (4bc). But there were things which signalled trouble, that should have been addressed (Elvis) but weren’t…
Work was intense and I was loving it so we took a break from ttc and I went back on the pill for a couple of months whilst we were filming.
Come January I was staff again and was to enjoy the security of a permenant job and all the benefits the come along with, like maternity leave. That was the green flag I needed to try again.
The second round of IVF went well but reflecting back should have gone very differently . Elvis had moved in and my left ovary was struggling. He was a result of a more complex internal disease that should have been delt with previously…. Endometriosis. Discovering his size was too little (or in his case big) too late as I’d already started my stims. There was no going back. Despite his presence the right ovary did well and we still got a good number of eggs (11) despite not being able to reach those on the left as Elvis blocked he way. 9 of these fertilised but my little 3bb didn’t stick.
Our IVF journey was over.
Now it was time to deal with Elvis. He had to be evicted. My fertility clinic had to refer me back to my Doctor who had to refer me back to my gynocologyst who would then do further tests and a surgery. By July Elvis had left the building and I was left to unpick everything that had happened. To analyse and doubt my decisions. To question my choice of clinic, my treatment and fight for my justice, for my right to be a mother.
I learnt the hard way to question Doctors, to analyse their every choice. To ask for what I wanted. But now I do.
Now I am on my own. Making myself better.
I sometimes wonder if it was written in the stars, my battle. A fate for me sealed at a very young age.
My mother, who judged my neighbours when I was a child because they needed IVF, back when it was new, said something horrible about it. What I don’t recall. But I remember thinking, even at such a young age, that I would too ‘now you’ve said that!’
Then I forgot. Until ‘Maybe Baby’ which I watched at the cinema. Sitting there thinking ‘I’m going to have to jab myself with needles if I want kids. I can’t be dealing with that.’ I think that’s when I decided I didn’t want them.
Fast forward a decade or so. The pill is in the bin and ‘if we don’t do it this month we’ll never get pregnant!’ Did my own words curse me? Did I cast some kind of spell on myself? Did I ‘just know?’
Was she hiding in fear, the mother in me? Not fear of having children but of not having them. Was that why I didn’t want them? Because she knew we could never have them?
There are other ways I know and who knows what is to come.
I don’t know if my journey is over. It may only just have begun.
All I know is whenever I try to leave the mother behind, when I think I have, she is still there, doing what all good mothers do, watching and waiting for when she is needed.