(Or: Going with the Flo)
And here it is.
I don’t know how I thought I would feel when I got my period – the first period after my very first pregnancy and my very first miscarriage. (I refuse even after all this time to call it “Aunt Flo(w)” as I don’t believe in calling such a ****ing horrendous thing by the name of some benevolent female relation – so sue me!) It felt like it was coming yesterday, and it happened overnight. I feel sort of resigned. Sort of morose.
I’ve just looked up the dates. I started this journey back in April. I was so optimistic then! My Day 1 on the IVF journey was April 15, and my last period ended on April 25. My (IVF) pregnancy was confirmed at the beginning of July and lost a few short weeks later. It’s now August 13, almost four months since we started on our IVF journey and around 15 years since I first could have considered having a child. A lot has happened in that time and the time before. I finally joined the blogging community. I finally put a name to that loss – infertility; not just not-being-a-parent – and we suffered a new loss, of our much wanted baby.
How do I feel?
In some ways I feel mildly depressed. I don’t think I have anything like full on clinical depression, so I definitely wouldn’t want to overplay it. I think I have a right to feel disappointed, grieving and angry at times. It’s a natural reaction. For me it’s more of a low level background noise, with the loss always there in the back of my mind, whereas my days are generally a net happy result. I have my amazing partner T and I have my superdog and I have a job which I don’t love, but which pays the bills in the way that I don’t have to worry about it too much. I’m in a way better place than I was a few years ago, in my Other Life.
It’s probably the hormones and the nasty shock of my body having to get used to a period after a brief hiatus of not having them for a while. I have horrific periods, but I’m happy to report that whilst they bear no resemblance to my friends’ stories of periods (I seem to lose a lot of blood, and I’ve had operations for endometriosis, and I have a fibroid, and I’ve been given drugs to make them lighter and less painful with no discernable effect), they are nothing like a miscarriage. And for that I’m grateful, because I don’t know how I’d cope if it happened again. But we will try, of course.
I think I feel emotionally tired because we have to put our hope on hold for a while. Whilst I know there’s no real reason why we’d ever get pregnant naturally, because it’s been 15 years and I had no sniff of a pregnancy until IVF, I always had this hope in the back of my mind that it could happen naturally. Because it happened for my parents after 15 years, miraculously. Because I’m now with someone who actually wants to make a baby. But they found a fibroid during the confirmation scans for my miscarriage, and it’s right smack bang in the middle of my uterus, so really it needs to get sorted out before we can start again.
The appointment with the gynaecologist isn’t until October, which seems so long away when this was identified in July. I know it’s not life threatening so I should expect a wait, but it’s hard to be optimistic when I know I won’t get an operation to remove the fibroid until October at the earliest (and probably later once I get on an op waiting list). And after that I’ll have to heal, and we will have to wait until our turn comes round for IVF cycle #2 which could be at least six months, and our hospital (where the fertility clinic is) has completely shut down comms, so I have no idea what to expect. It’s disappointing.
Just the waiting.
We are all in the infertility community used to it. So many stories of waiting, and hoping, and some of them have happy endings and some don’t. And meanwhile, other people’s happinesses are hard to bear. By which I mean: other people’s fertility, the representation of everything I/we don’t have.
Today: another bump post of a pretty much ex-friend looking more glamorous with a 28 week bump than I do even without a bump. I’m dumpy, 15kg over my old weight, confidence hugely knocked. The one thing I used to have over Them was that I could turn men’s heads (for in my experience, there’s nothing more appealing to sleazy men in the city than an emotionally screwed up borderline eating disorder). Why do I even care? I don’t know… I don’t need other men’s approval. It’s just I’m realising that I can’t even be a vixen if I can’t be a mother. (I told you I was feeling sorry for myself.)
And elsewhere on social media: a post been going round for a while about tattoos of semi-colons; they’re meant to represent that a story isn’t finished, which people have used to represent all sorts of persistence through loss (such as fighting depression). As opposed to a full stop (“period” in US) which represents the end of something.
And I guess that’s what my period is.
It’s the end of our chapter, of our first IVF, of my first pregnancy, of my baby so lovingly if medically conceived, of our first loss.
But not the end of our story…
T kisses me and tells me he loves me every day. If he could, he would take my broken heart and hold it in his hands and squish it whole again. He’s a good man. I’ll always be happy for having him, and for enabling me to have Dog (who I’d probably never have adopted on my own), for our little family with its ghost baby who we may or may never meet.
I really am okay.
My blog is cathartic so you get the best and worst of me… and periods bring out the worst, so don’t be alarmed. If you met me today in real life I would smile. I’d be fun. You’d think, she’s fine. I was hugely flattered the other day when a couple of girls from work asked me to join them for a drink. (I hadn’t been out with them before… The nature of my work means it takes ages to get to the going out friends stage as we rarely work with the same people.) We drank bubbly and chatted, and I realised that I was okay. The thought of going into the dating game (as they were) makes my stomach turn. I’m happy to have found my prince-who-isn’t-a-prince. If my worst problem is not my health, or having enough money to live without putting myself in danger – I’m better off than the majority of people in the world.
And so I persist. We keep calm and we carry on. It’s the only way. And tomorrow (or in approximately 5 days) I will feel much better.