Trying to be a mum by Keeley Dwight @_tryingtobeamum_
We’ve been going through fertility treatment for nearly the last 4 years in one way or another…three failed IVF treatments, one natural pregnancy, and one miscarriage later, there are lots of things that we have learnt, and I decided that maybe it would help someone else, if I started to share some of this, so that’s what I did, and my blog was born…
There is SOOO much that you put yourself through, emotionally and physically, when you enter into treatment and often it can be really hard to get your head round. The way that we’ve tried to approach it is that this is just the way that we have to get to our family, and yes it’s a bit sh*t and you question why it has to be you all the time, BUT hey we can’t change the facts and at some point it will be our time.
One thing that I’ve been really aware of, is that during this process it all ends up being about the woman, “the patient”, and clearly that has to be the case (I mean WE ARE VERY IMPORTANT;)!), but more often thnt not the “other halves” get a little forgotten and it’s really important that they are given their dues and the support that they need too!
You might be the one injecting yourself left, right and centre, but these guys are the ones who put up with us; who offer us their unwavering support and more often than not pick us up when we aren’t feeling like the superhero we feel we need to be. This also doesn’t have to be a husband, wife, or partner, just someone who is going through this journey with you. And I hope you do have someone, it’s really important to have strong emotional support during this fun game of fertility roulette!
I actually think that sometimes it is more difficult for the partner than it is for you. Bear with me… but you are in control of your schedule, your injections (for the most part). You are the “patient”, and the focus of every appointment and phone call, and it can be a very singular role. It’s hard not to become a little self -obsessed by your own gripes, bruises, headaches and nausea! BUT, and I think this is really important, the partner should never be forgotten.
They can’t take the injection for you, but they wish they could. They don’t understand truly how you feel, but they wish they did. They want everything to work as much as you do, but there is nothing they can do to make that a guarantee, but they wish they could. I think that sense of helplessness can be quite overwhelming at times. I mean I feel it, so it makes even more sense that they should too.
If we are honest, and it’s hard to admit, it’s really hard to feel like this isn’t just happening to you, because that is exactly who it is happening to. It’s easy for people to say “yeah here for whatever you need”, “anything I can do”, and the reality is there is nothing physically that anyone can do for you, they can’t take that injection (ie the pain), or have that tenth scan. However, what they can do and what is even more important, is just be there for you, understand that you feel like crap, or equally ride the wave of a really good day.
I can only speak from my experience, which is obviously with my husband, and I can honestly say I couldn’t do this without him! I mean, obviously I couldn’t biologically, but you know what I mean. I’m a lucky lady, in that Dwighty* (nickname!), is a general all round legend in most situations, and this has proved no different. I know it kills him when I cry after a particularly shitty injection, but he will always just hold me and tell me how brave I am. He puts up with me saying how tired I am (even when he’s the one who has been at work all day!), or moaning about how bloated and fat I feel, by just listening to me rant and reassuring me that it’s all normal… or just making me a cup of tea (decaf obvs!). And don’t get me wrong, I love being looked after, but I have to remember that he is going through this too.
Dwighty really wants to be a dad, and the fact is that he will make the most incredible dad, and I want that to start as soon as possible. But as the male in this process, the feeling of helpessness I can only imagine. Aside from making sure your “boys” are in tip- top condition (and this is super important believe me, it’s not all the woman’s body that contributes to this process working!), what else can you do? Dwighty went along with my health kick recipes, my ban on “refined sugar”, protein with every meal, a fascinating array of quinoa variations and broccoli rice, alongside my militant approach to alcohol (although the odd IPA or shandy did creep in but hey we are all human!). But, he did it because he knew that ultimately it was the best thing for both of us, physically and mentally, and also because doing it together was really important. You are in this together, and any elements that can make you feel closer to each other as part of the process is, in my opinion, really important.
I also think god bless them… do you know how embarrassing it is to provide “a specimen” and then come out of a fairly “uninspiring room”, to a waiting room full of people, who all clearly know what you’ve just done?… I mean, come on that’s excruciating! A slight dip of the head and take your seat. I’m under anathaestic when I’m having my “bits” collected, blissfully unaware, but there is something so cold about that little pot and that brown paper bag!
The one thing I think/ know that Dwighty wishes, is that he could just “fix” this. He is amazing at “fixing” things, whatever that might be; my inadequacy at general household technical maintenance or helping friends through tough times. Dwighty always knows exactly the right thing to say and do, but this isn’t something he can fix on his own. And I think that’s hard for anyone, but come on, especially for blokes. But we are in it together and it is a partnership, and has only made me love him more (sorry I know I know, but it’s true). This doesn’t always happen and can often really drive couples apart, which is so sad, but I can see why it’s possible, it’s brutal, unforgiving and more often than not a bit soul destroying.
It’s exhausting being the “strong one”, trust me I’ve been “that friend” for most of my life! And if you are really good at it, it is easy to forget that there are still a myriad of emotions and thoughts running through their heads that they don’t want to vocalise, because they don’t want to put any more pressure on you (that you already feel). Just don’t forget to ask “how are you?”, it’s a really simple question but one that isn’t asked enough sometimes.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, that by no stretch of the imagination is this a walk in the park, but it is also not just about you (the woman, the patient), if you have someone else in your life that is on this journey too.
Be aware, be kind and talk!...
Oh, also obviously buy ridiculous things, cry without reason (you know what I mean) and demand you are the centre of the universe always… but just remember they should be able to do that too!
At no point is all of the above truer, then when you have to deal with disappointments and setbacks through this process. Which is exactly what has just happened to us. Having just completed our last round (4th IVF), we got the call got that dreaded phone call to tell us “we are sorry but the result is negative”.
As I answered the phone, whilst pondering over a pair of trainers in New Balance on Oxford St, the world fell silent as I heard those very painful words. I closed my eyes and shook my head, as Dwighty looked on helpless and tried to get rid of a slightly shocked shop assistant (poor girl!). We made a quick exit and just stood and hugged each other outside, as the rest of the Saturday shoppers went about their business, oblivious to what we were going through. It’s always a surreal ten minutes straight after “the call”, you are processing the information and working out how you feel, but equally you go a bit numb and it’s very difficult to make any decisions. Luckily we have a pretty standard strategy (having had to deal with this a few times!), which is wander around town, often partake in a glass of something, find some gorgeous bites to eat and then find somewhere else until we feel we should go home (more often that not after too many glasses, which was certainly the case this time). Might not be the right answer, and isn’t everyone’s way of dealing with things, but it’s ours. Fact – I have not missed hangovers!!
As we are gluttons for punishment, you’d think that getting bad news is something we are used to, and it’s true to an extent that we are conditioned to it, and have learnt how to manage this, but it’s still shit. Mostly because, although we never get ahead of ourselves as we know how cruel this friend of ours is, we just thought this was our time. I genuinely felt like this time was different, it felt more calm, more positive (mentally and scientifically) and for f*cks sake it’s our bloody turn!
But the reality is, IVF is a cruel bastard, and it isn’t our time…YET! As we wandered the streets of London, we chatted a lot about how we felt. Obviously we are incredibly sad, but also in a way we are ready for the next phase. This isn’t supposed to sound harsh, and some people might be dubious in that it is recommended that you “grieve” and accept it before you move on. But I honestly feel like now I’m just some sort of social / medical experiment, and that this is my lot in life, to keep going and keep going and not give up. I mean at least it gives me something else to write about, right?! The thought of having to go through this again is exhausting yet also exciting, because it gives us hope.
We won’t really know what the next steps are until we have our “debrief” consultation in a couple of weeks, but we kind of know what to expect ie “it’s a numbers game, keep going” (at least that’s the hope!). But I know we will take whatever advice they give us and know it’s what’s best for us, and not be stubborn about “just making this work”, and ensure that we are ready.
Some things I’ve learnt this time round (and had to remind myself of from before):
· Having a “calm” frame of mind and the “space” to be able to commit to the process has been invaluable. Even if sometimes you feel like your brain will explode.
· That you have to put faith in the process, even when it doesn’t work out, you just have to be aware of the odds and play them.
· Trying to divorce emotion from the facts, however desperate we are for it to work and cold it sounds, is really the best way to get through this.
· To want to scream at the unfairness of it all, is ok and really important. Anger, frustration and sadness will all play their part, but you get to judge how much attention they get.
· That more and more I believe that, “every woman who goes through IVF is a freaking WARRIOR!” (I can thank my cousin for finding that gem!)
· We have to keep remembering that this is a learning process and we have to take the things that went well and add to them, that the more they know about both of us and the way we react to treatment, the more we can inform the next round.
· Don’t dwell on the “what ifs”, it will drive you bloody mad.
· It’s really easy to beat yourself up, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve apologised to Dwighty. Because whatever you know the truth to be, that it is not your fault, it doesn’t stop you thinking it.
· Oh and Dwighty’s legend status continues…
Be good to yourself, enjoy the things you love doing, and just get ready… ding ding back in for another round!