I know, I’m super neglectful of my blog. My life was a little hectic in 2020. My job was full on as it has been focused on the pandemic, and it involves a lot of writing so the last thing I wanted to do at the end of the day was write. Also, I didn’t expect to be writing about 5 (soon to be 6) rounds of full IVF. Really what more is there to say after round 1 and 2? The needles still sting but you get used to it. You still get bloated, have headaches and feel exhausted – that doesn’t change. You still hold your breath every time you have a scan waiting for the news that confirms ‘YOUR BODY IS SHIT AT IVF!’- nothing new. You still get disappointed when you wake up and the number of follicles you went in with doesn’t match your eggs collected. You still hope and hope and hope, planning for that baby in 9 months, only to come crashing down in an avalanche of hormones at the end when Aunt Flo rudely shows up at your door to tell you that you failed again, you don’t get to be a Mum this time. Although yes, I do post about it on my Instagram and find it helpful to know my journey helps others, writing about it in detail over and over and over again is soul crushing. So, I just haven’t had anything to say and that’s OK.
Here’s a few things I wanted to share, this I’ve learnt or already knew but apply to my journey.
- Whatever you need to do is ok. If writing helps you, write. If crying it our helps you, cry it out. If talking to someone helps, talk. If watching trash TV helps you, watch away (send me suggestions). If taking a really bad for the environment number of showers helps you, you know what do it – (other times take shorter showers to even it out). If eating chocolate helps, eat it. If sticking to a strict fertility diets helps you feel in control – you eat that kale and salmon girl! If you need to withdraw from some people – do it (as long as it’s coming from a place of self-protection and you do it in love, try not to blow up all your relationships, you still do have power over how you treat others. If you find that you’re a bit destructive as a protective mechanism I’d suggest seeking a professional to support you through establishing healthy boundaries). I think you’re getting my point. This journey is HARD and most of it is completely out of your control so give yourself permission to feel, express and heal how you need to.
- Interestingly, by going through so many failed attempts it’s changed my perspective on my situation. When I first started, I was actually really grieving the fact that I was doing this alone. And honestly, I wish I had found a great guy to do this with, but I didn’t – I found average or even a bunch of really below average guys or guys with potential but in the end hurt me and so I’d rather just give my child my great than let it be dampened by a below average father because I was ‘supposed to find one’. I know others will not agree with me, but being single as a smart, professional, independent woman is HARD. I see that more now that I am in a role with many other smart, professional single women my age. Men say that’s what they want but they don’t, society has conditioned them to be threatened by that. And the pool to choose from after all those girls married their high school sweethearts and the fun guy they met in their 20s is not a lot – kind of like my eggs – there aren’t as many so you have to keep going back again and again to try and find the quality. But after my first cycle was cancelled in February and then with each progressive failure, with my dream of becoming a Mum moving slightly further away each time, the grief over not having a husband to share this with has become less. My child has become the thing I want most, not the husband and child. Do I still hope I find someone great, absolutely I do, but there’s much less sadness about it.
- Most people aren’t in it for the long haul. Many of people who were so excited when I first started on this journey don’t even check in on me anymore. I get that’s it’s been a hard year for lots of people, but honestly it hurts a little. I gave so much to my relationships. But as my life changed and I was not longer as able to be the one to always go to their place, to always suggest we hang out, to always make the effort the friendship changed. I expected them to change a bit, but not to the point where they have no clue what’s happening in my life – particularly when I make it so easy for them to be included. It hurts when I was the one who baby sat your kids or made you meals when you were sick or had your babies or planned your celebrations. But new people, new friends have emerged. And those that have stuck with me have really been shining lights in my life. I get that holding someone else’s pain can be tricky, but I’d do it for you.
- I miss who I used to be, part of this is COVID and party of this is IVF. I wonder if my IVF experience might have been different if COVID hadn’t happened. If I’d still been able to see my friends, and take a little weekend away or go to a nice restaurant, go to the footy every week, be in the vibrant city every day. Don’t get me wrong the ability to lay down while working is a god send during STIMS and to help with less mess where those nasty progesterone capsules are concerned but I do wonder if I’d had other things in my life besides COVID and IVF if I’d be different. I miss feeling like the happy go lucky, bubbly girl. I miss having confidence as I went about my days. I miss feeling pretty (the IVF weight gain has certainly not helped there either). I miss planning events and fun activities. I miss being the most excited person for you when you announced your pregnancy. I hate that people feel like that have to hide their joy for fear of triggering me. I described it to my friend the other day in this way… ‘I no longer feel safe in the world and with people because happiness hurts me and I hate that. And even more I hate that people feel they need to hide their happiness from me because I never want to steal someone’s joy’. I miss the girl/woman I was, I know she’s still there – she pops out when I have a dance party in my living room or when I’m playing with my nephews – but I wish I could find her more often.
- Instagram is not real life and it should be. We are setting each other and ourselves up to fail by removing all the ‘real’ from our feeds. I posted a pretty emotional clip of the day I got my period after my 5th round of IVF, my 3rd transfer and the 8th time I’ve stimmed in 18 months. It was a hard few days. I don’t want to post those things. Sometimes it makes me feel uncomfortable, I’m not an attention seeking type of person. But I do because I have made a commitment to myself to be real and raw because it empowers others and gives them permission to be the same. That week I had at least 3 women tell me how they thought they were failing because they saw other women ‘have it together’. It’s bull! No one has it together all the time. No one going through infertility, no new mum, no one! And yet all we see is perfect… perfect bodies, perfect smiles, perfect life and wonder ‘what am I doing wrong?’. I’m an upbeat person, I always have been and I know that others can look at me and think ‘she has it all together’. Not just on social media, I actually made this commitment years ago when I was mentoring young people – I didn’t want anyone to look up to me and aspire to be something unattainable. So, I am real and raw and I make no apologies for that. I shared a post back in August of me crying the day after my birthday. That post has been shared many times. I’m thankful that if I have to go through these hardships at least it can be used to help others. One company posted it (without my permission – which is a whole other conversation) but not with my image. They posted my words, tagged me in it but posted it with an image of a model, laying perfectly posed on a bed with her hands covering her face. A far cry from my tear stained, snotty sadness. I contacted the company and explained that I wasn’t comfortable with this as it was setting up a false expectation for women. The words were about pain and anguish and the image was melancholy but perfect. They apologised and took it down, explaining that they sold parenting books so wanted their feed to be upbeat. Which is all fine, but don’t then claim to be empowering women if you take away the truth for your upbeat feed.
Anyway… I’m off to enjoy some sunshine. I decided to take an extra month off from IVF to feel like a human being for a bit longer. And sunshine definitely helps!!