2020

I found myself thinking today, as I was gently cooking some tomatoey sauce to go with our easy IKEA
veggie balls and pasta for dinner tonight (you’re advised to take things easy after an embryo
transfer). I think I have some thoughts that might be useful. Maybe.

It’s just gone 3pm, the day after l’armistice. I’ve been taking oestrogen, folic acid, vitamin D and
prednisolone pills, and smearing oestrogen gel, and injecting and pessarising progesterone for what
seems like forever and no time at all. Again. Today I had the first of our second batch of frozen
embryos transferred, about 3 hours ago. Apparently it thawed perfectly – 100%. Another hurdle
done. They are infinite, it seems, just get less perceptible as time passes and experience grows.
I have been having the Pregnancy Dreams for weeks now. I’ve had Baby Brain for years too. They
aren’t quite what I’m led to believe, really. Pregnancy, as a Thing, is so much more than a physical
condition. It can be an all-encompassing desire, need, dream or obsession which can change your
everything, repeatedly. It’s a state of mind, it changes your behaviour and your way of thinking.
Pregnancy Dreams and Baby Brain, I think, are pretty much the same thing. A huge preoccupation is
going on in my brain, I have so much to think about both consciously and subconsciously that my
normal day-to-day thoughts don’t seem to be as near the front as they used to be. It’s happening
before I’m pregnant, I think because I’m thinking about it all so much because of the alternative
pathway we’ve had to take to get near pregnancy. So it’s not purely physiological. In fact, I’d go as
far as saying it could well all be psychological and emotional. The physiological stuff, for me, is kind
of a rare treat which I fear the loss of.

I’m waking early every morning now, having had crazy vivid dreams. There was one a few days back
where I woke up from a dream, lay awake hearing a piece of one of our toddler’s current favourite
songs overandoverandover in my head for ages, then drifted back into my hazy crazy dream again!
Why?! Not necessary, brain. Too much on my mind, I’m sure. Will it work. Will it thaw. Will it
implant. Will it grow. Will it be “on-going”. Will I see a heartbeat. Will I hear a heartbeat. Will there
be any anomalies. Will it all be ok? Will we all be ok? So many more levels of Things to Think About,
on this our fourth time round. Not sure if I’ve got another one in me, to be honest. But I thought that
after the first one. Can’t think that way really, until we’ve reached what we need to pass together.

It was about four years ago, not long after our first transfer, that I wrote off the car – probably
preoccupied with pregnancy and associated preoccupations. This was the car we got as a
replacement for my car that was off the road since August as I wrote that off too, maybe not helped
by fertility and IVF and pregnancy preoccupations. Genuinely I’m not too bad as a driver, I like to
think. Since we found out that my ovaries failed in my mid-thirties and endured the roads we’ve
travelled together, it sometimes feels like I’ve lost my mind and can hardly string a thought together.
I forget my words. I forget my days. I forget names. (I NEVER forget names.) Back then, the First
Time, I suppose I was scared it wouldn’t work but really didn’t know quite how many ways it could
fail. Also, scared it would work and I’d have no clue as to what to do or how to do it.

I’m not sure I want to be knowledgeable and experienced in this, but I think I am, a bit, in my own
amateur way. It took so long to get to pregnancy, but we got there. We needed an awesome
altruistic donor for her generous gift of eggs, and with the help of some excellent technicians my
husband played his part in making our embryos. 3 good ones, we were told.
Number one was a fresh transfer, which took some coordination as our donor was doing her meds
on a cruise with her family. The other two were frozen. We got as far as the booking appointment at sixteen weeks, the Doppler couldn’t find a heartbeat. We were sent straight to the labour ward for a scan and got told there was no heartbeat. I got booked on to a ward, given a pill and sent home for
the night, to come back to the ward the next day and be induced. I rang my parents. My Dad picked
up. He asked how I was, and was everything ok. I said no. He cried. I had no idea I’d have to go
through labour, it hurt so much in so many ways.

Number two was our Rainbow. It was so terrifying, every second of every day. What was that? Was
she moving? Was she not moving? When did she stop moving?? I called the emergency labour line
early on Christmas morning and spoke to the nicest person, who told us to come in straight away
and I cried and I cried and the scan (done so quickly, smoothly and lovingly) showed our baby was
fine, dancing around beautifully. I guess she was just sleeping. It took a reeeeeally long time to stop
thinking she was just going to die. I think I’m down to normal levels of worrying about my child now,
not thinking every time I look at her clothes or her toys or her bed that when she goes that’s all we’ll
have left.

Number three took a long time to get to, but we finally decided we wanted to give our daughter one
shot at a true sibling and ourselves the chance of having another child. We almost got to six weeks,
then it was over again. Again, I had no idea how painful labour could be – or more specifically this
time how early. Really? At 6 weeks? Horrific, and isolated, at home in the middle of the first Covid
Lockdown. Why does nobody talk about this? Why didn’t I know what a miscarriage might be like?
Saying that, when the right people find out, they talk, and that’s a light in the dark. I had no idea so
many of my friends, colleagues and family had lost children.