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Posts tagged ‘trying to conceive’

Jul 18 / Caro

Baby Lust No More?

Shortly after our third IVF attempt and failure, I wrote this, about how hard it was to surrender hope when I still wanted another baby so badly. At the time, I couldn’t imagine ever not wanting it so fiercely that it hurt from the moment I woke up to the moment I fell asleep.

It turns out that perhaps there is truth in the old adage that time heals. A bit, at least.

I’ve come to realise in the last few weeks that maybe, just maybe, that fierce devotion to the dream of another child has shifted. It’s in no small part due to all the other crap that has taken my focus away in the last 12 months. But I think that is just the thing that has masked this change in perspective as it happened, and allowed it to creep up on me.

It’s more that I’ve come to accept that I cannot ever have my dream. That ship has sailed. Even if I did miraculously conceive another child, I can never have the “three under five” sort of family dynamic that I once longed for.

And more than that, it would alter our lives so much to go back to having a newborn now. Contemplating that sort of change in our lives is very different to the longing to have been able to have had another baby almost four years ago when we started trying.

The thing is, we’re reaching a stage where our lives are really moving on, for want of a better descriptor. Thomas starts school in September, and though it may win me a bad mother award, I’m quite excited by the prospect of having 9 to 3 free, two days per week. Sure, I’ll miss that time with Thomas, but his school is awesome and I know he’ll be enjoying it. Having some time to get my hair cut during the day, go for a swim, do household tasks without the hindrance of a small child’s “help”, sort out seemingly endless rounds of doctors appointments so I don’t have to drag Thomas to them… The list of things I’m looking forward to goes on. These are things I’ve never had much opportunity for before, as prior to having Thomas, like so many women, I was working full time, 5 or 6 day weeks. You can forgive me for looking forward to it, no? Having a younger child, of course, would delay this point by a while longer. Had I had my last baby last year as I hoped, I’d have three or four more years to wait. If I fell pregnant now, it would be at least another five.

And we’re starting to reclaim more of our own interests too. This weekend we – all three of us – rode our bikes together across the parks and along local cycle lanes to a pub with a garden. We sat in the sunshine and Ian and I had a cheeky pint and some good conversation that didn’t revolve around parenting. Thomas was quite happy drinking apple juice through a straw, searching for the biggest sticks he could find and making friends with the dogs lying in the sun. It was exactly the kind of thing we’d have been doing on a sunny Saturday afternoon if we didn’t have kids. Again, it may win me a bad mother award, but doing things which we want to do as well as things which are more centred around our child is, to my mind, essential for balance. Far from being selfish, I think all parents need to have the opportunity to fulfill some of their own desires and interests as part of rounded family life. But that is only possible as kids get that bit older, and more able to understand the importance of anyone but themselves and make their own enjoyment out of varied situations.

Thomas is now happy to do so many things that we would do without a child to consider, and stuff that is harder with a swarm of kids. Sure, we can’t take him to 18 rated films at the cinema, or to some of the more adult theatre we enjoy, nor is he an equal with whom we can discuss everything. But we’re really beginning to enjoy being a family without it all having to be kid-centric – lovely and fun as those sorts of activities are, and grateful as I am to have the opportunity to do them because I have child with who to do them.

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Last month, I was sure that I’d ovulated. It doesn’t happen very often, but so many years of focusing on your fertility help you to tune in to the signs. And then, no period arrived. Not strange in itself – they often fail to show. But the fact that I was sure I’d ovulated made me just wonder if it were possible. It was a fleeting thought, that I tried to quickly suppress. But with it came a host of confusing emotions. I suddenly questioned exactly how I’d feel if I were, indeed pregnant.

Ecstatic, of course I would. Years of longing for a second pink line that never appeared means it would an irrepressible instinct.

But.

But.

I’m not sure that now is the right time. I think all the times that could have been the right time have passed.

I wasn’t pregnant. Obviously.

But the experience has allowed me to realise that I may just be ready to let go of the thought that it will ever happen. I think I’m at peace with that now. It will always hurt, but I know that it would still hurt just as much that we weren’t able to have a baby back when we were first trying, even if we had another baby now. Managing to separate out the unrealised dream from the bare fact of infertility is a massive leap.

It comes down to this: We wanted a baby. We couldn’t have one. I’ll never really – truly – get over that.

But I’m ready to say that I don’t really want another baby now, anymore.

This is my family.

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 (Okay, okay… minus the mice!)
Sep 27 / Caro

Three Long Years

It’s been three years now since we started trying to conceive a second child. Almost two years since our devastating secondary infertility diagnosis. And almost a year since our final attempt at IVF spectacularly failed.

Time is passing and my longing for another pregnancy, and more importantly another child to love and nurture does not diminish. It still sits heavy as a stone in the deepest part of my heart. Maternal instinct is a base desire, not a longing that I can control, and so I know it will remain, even if the intensity wanes.

I never imagined that I’d be someone who counted off so many years of trying, and failing, to conceive. Well, who does?

To clarify, I’d imagined infertility, I just did not imagine how it might weigh me down. Before we began trying for our first child, I expected to run into some difficulties. My complex health history made me believe it wasn’t going to straightforward. But back then I was naive. I thought if it didn’t work out then I would find a way to be okay with that, because I was prepared for the possibility. I certainly didn’t think I’d cry over every period for all eternity, or count off the months of failure one by one, always knowing exactly how many had passed.

And I don’t know, perhaps I would have been some approximation of alright if fate had destined us to be childless. To think about not having Thomas now hurts with an intensity I cannot put in to words. But if I’d never known him, and the joy he brings I could not miss him with that same passion. It would obviously have been different had we been able to have no children, rather than only one. I would be a different person and it’s impossible to know how I would have coped. I had so many consolation plans. Plans for an entirely different life. I knew we’d have extra money, I’d have more opportunities to invest in my career. I’d planned the places we’d go and the experiences we could enjoy. I guess in trying to have a child I was making a choice between having a family or completing other exciting life goals; the things that study, poor health and other circumstances had contrived to deny me in my twenties. I wanted a family, but the alternative was palatable enough – exciting enough, even – that it might just have been alright.

And it’s not as simple as saying that my current reality is not “alright”. I wouldn’t trade having my amazing boy in my world for anything at all. Nothing. I wouldn’t even change him for two children if neither of those were him. But having only one child whilst wanting more leaves you in a limboland where the absence is particularly acute. We’re still parents. But we’re also still incomplete. And if happiness is related to the difference between your expectations and reality, then I’ve fallen through the crack between both of my anticipated realities in to the one situation I did not foresee and so it’s unsurprising that it’s come with a weight of sadness. And whilst I know for sure that career achievements, exciting world travel or even learning to fly a plane are no replacement for, or in any way comparable to, having a family of your own, they must surely provide a better means of distraction from what you do not have. Instead I am confronted day in and day out at the school gates and swimming lessons, or the local soft play centre and playground, by other parents with their broods of siblings, or the buggy pushing mothers with their round beach ball bellies as proud evidence of the next addition to come. I cannot run, never mind hide.

In the last three years that we’ve been trying in vain to grow our family, I’ve seen people go from not yet being pregnant with a first child to having two children. It’s hard to shake that feeling of being stuck in the slow lane whilst everyone else accelerates past, reaching the destination that I long for, but can never attain.

I suppose what I’m saying is that it’s still hard. Even after all this time. And despite having Thomas – I’ve said it before but it always bears repeating that my sadness does not reflect a lack of gratitude for what I do have. I’m still allowed to mourn what I do not.

I think it always will be hard. But I recognise that it’s a bit like other forms of grief. It began as an endless ocean with soaring waves that I could neither avoid nor see past. Gradually the waves diminished a little, but they’d still strike me unbidden with no warning of their approach, often overwhelming me in the process. More recently the calm periods have felt a little longer. I can often predict the waves before they hit, even if I can’t avoid them entirely. I’m a little better at riding the storms. I go under less frequently. I know the ups and downs, the waves and the storms, will continue. But I also hope they’ll continue to lessen in their frequency and impact.

Three years is a long time to try for a baby. A long time to spend counting days and hoping. No one expects it to take so long. No one wants to believe that they will be the ones for whom there is no resolution, no miracle. No happy ending. So no one plans for how to stop counting. We’re not actually trying any more. We can’t pursue any further fertility treatment and even adoption is, currently, a blocked road. For obvious reasons we don’t use contraception, but we’re not “trying”.

Still that little flicker of disbelief that this is where I find myself burns on. Unconsciously I suppose I still hope for a miracle. I still cry each and every time my period arrives. That is increasingly infrequently these days, which at least reduces how many times I face the hurt of that particular reminder of what is not to be, but in itself reminds me of the ever worsening state of the situation. The dwindling chance of a biological possibility of a miracle. Sometimes I wonder if using contraception would help cement the absolute reality of the fact that we will not conceive. If I was actively trying to prevent a pregnancy, would I be better able to move forwards without counting how many months have passed?

No. Probably not.

There is no conclusion to this really. I’m in no doubt that those waves of sadness will keep coming and when I focus on it, infertility will always hurt. But for the majority of the time the joy in the family I have surpasses the disappointment of the unfulfilled dream. That’s a positive, three years down this endless winding road that began on that fateful September day three years ago where we committed to “trying again” without a thought at all to the possibility of failure.

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Jul 23 / Caro

“I’d Love Another, But We Can’t Have Any More”

It’s turned out to be a bit of a conversation stopper, that.

Yet, somehow, despite the fact that it seems to drag infertility front and centre, I’ve found myself saying it more and more recently. Because, of course, it’s not uttering that statement that brings our infertility to the fore, it’s the never ending barrage of questions about whether, or when, we’re going to have another child, or even why we haven’t got on and done it already.

And every time someone asks that question, it reminds me of what I long for, but cannot have, and it breaks my heart just a little bit more.

Those questions won’t stop any time soon though. I know that now. For as long as I’m doing nursery runs, and preschool birthday parties with other mums of about my age, for as long as I’m of an age where I should, at least in theory, be well pre-menopausal, and for as long as I work with the well-meaning public who like to make “small talk”, people are going to keep asking me about our plans for more children.

I’ve had to find a way to deal with that which doesn’t involve suspiciously frequent trips to the loo and a good supply of waterproof mascara.

And honesty, as they say, is the best policy. It turns out that being honest about it is nothing like as hard as either going through the infertility experience, or putting up a pretence of all being well every time the subject is raised.

In fact, funnily enough, it’s actually helped. Just by bringing infertility out in to the open I feel better. Acknowledging it rather than hiding it means it’s no longer a dirty little secret that no one can possibly comprehend because they simply don’t know. And it allows me to raise it, and then move on, rather than all those questions leaving a simmering hurt and upset that eventually boils over.

It’s not my intention to make people feel uncomfortable or awkward, even though I recognise my words often do that. I see the look of panic flash across their eyes as what I’ve said sinks in and they flail to find something appropriate to say in return. (For the record “I’m sorry” or “That must be really tough” would be fine. Asking if we’ve tried IVF or considered adoption is like asking a dental hygienist if they know how to floss. And it’s a bit rude, not to mention inconsiderate. So yeah… Just. Stop.) But if I can make people think, then that has to be a good thing. If people can start to realise that these seemingly innocent questions can crush like a ton of bricks then that is great. If they can see that not everyone has the privilege of “choosing” the size of their family and that having an “only child” isn’t necessarily something that we wanted, nevermind it being selfish or lazy or all the other things people assume, then it will make me feel better. If I can make people realise that having one child is no guarantee of more to follow, then it’s worth a few seconds of squirming. In fact, if I can open people’s eyes to the fact that a family with only one child is a perfectly valid family, whether it was by choice or not, then we’d really be moving forwards.

But most of all, I’d like to hope that it will make people stop and think in future. And next time they meet a woman of child-bearing age, whether she already has children or not, they don’t pry in to her personal circumstances. Because really, the question of how many children you want, or are planning, to have, is not dinner table conversation.

It”s deeply personal. It can be a tough subject for so many people for a huge variety of reasons. And if I have to lob a few infertility grenades into conversations to get people to see that…well, so be it.

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Feb 27 / Caro

IVF, One Year On

A year ago today, I shared some really exciting news on this blog. I’d already known for a short while that our first roll of the IVF dice had worked, but today was the day I chose to share that news. Of course, it wasn’t meant to be, and I was soon un-sharing our happiness.

I look back at that day now and I can remember the pure joy of seeing that second pink line on a pregnancy test. The moment where all the disappointments of the previous 18 months faded to grey, unimportant against the technicolor headline of a positive pregnancy test. All of my hopes and dreams suddenly felt as though they were finally in reach, if I could just hold on. I can remember feeling it, but I can’t recapture the actual emotions. These days it feels as though there is a wall of glass separating me from such elation. I can see it, but I can’t imagine attaining it. All I can do when I think of those moments now is will myself not to cry, biting my lip as I push the image of the four-month old that might have been from my mind.

Last year feels, in some ways, like a dream. I almost believe that I could wake up at any moment and discover that it never happened at all. It’s only the pain in my heart that tells me otherwise.

I look back on it too, in amazement. I look at what we managed to get through. Not in simple terms of the pressures and logistics, emotions and stresses, of multiple IVF cycles, their failures and a miscarriage. I know there is much worse that happens to people. It’s more the fact that I got through it whilst also maintaining as close to a normal existence as possible. While I may have whinged about almost nothing but infertility for the last year on this blog, reality has been very different, and I suppose I want those of you who’ve seen nothing but brow-beating and woe-is-me in my words here recently to really understand that it isn’t the whole picture.

The bits you didn’t always see included me working hard in a demanding job, all too often faced with a rude and demanding public. Better yet, I furthered my career with additional study. We gave Thomas a happy year, with days out, three trips away and innumerable cuddles and kisses. I kept on top of life, keeping the house in order, clean clothes in the wardrobe and good food on the table. I kept on top of my chronic health conditions not just during treatment cycles, but every single day. Few people in “real life” knew anything about the frantic paddling that was going on under the surface. And all of those who have since found out about it in retrospect have commented that they didn’t have a clue. Because almost without exception, I managed to hold it together.

And sometimes I just want to scream “Do you know what, that was really, really tough.” It’s an achievement that I feel right to be proud of. Because infertility, and the associated treatment, is hard, even if it isn’t the worst life can throw at you.

Sure, there were moments I’m not proud of. The moments that Thomas saw me cry, especially when he thought it may be his fault. The times my temper was not entirely kept in check. The time I dissolved in to a heap on the floor when I found the “Your Pregnancy Day by Day” book – left over from my pregnancy with Thomas – under the bed, covered in dust, where we’d pushed it out of sight on the day I began to miscarry.

I didn’t always cope perfectly, and I still don’t. But one year on, with empty arms and baby-shaped hole in my heart, I’m getting on with life. I smile, laugh and joke on a daily basis. I brush aside questions of whether we’ll have more children without my composure cracking.

We came though a year of IVF with unresolved infertility and no where left to turn. We were never going to be unscathed by the experience. There are few days that pass where I don’t contemplate how different they’d be if I were on maternity leave instead of working. If I were struggling through long nights and short days with a breast fed baby. If Thomas had a sibling to dote on and dislike, all at the same time.

But I’m still moving forwards. It’s taken a lot of strength to do. And that is what I’d like people to know.

Jan 25 / Caro

How to Tell Your Infertile Friend That You’re Pregnant

I don’t know if there will ever be a day where a pregnancy announcement isn’t like sucker punch right in the gut. I’m not sure when the time will come that I don’t cry big, fat, snotty and unattractive tears in response to someone else’s joy. At the end of the day, there is no good way for someone who is infertile to hear the news that you are procreating. But there are a bunch of things that you can do to ensure you make it the best experience it can be, to let your friend know that you’ve considered her pain and to make her feel loved and supported as your life moves on in a way that hers cannot. So here are my top tips for announcing your pregnancy news to your infertile friends.

1. Just do it. If you’re reading this, you obviously know it’s a delicate issue and it’s human nature to shy away from difficult things. But remember that it will be much harder for them that for you. You will have a short period of awkwardness or guilt to contend with. But you have your pregnancy to focus on. Your friend will continue to be reminded forever of the joy that she cannot share in. It won’t get easier for either of you if you put it off, so just do it.

2. Consider telling early. By which I mean before you tell the rest of the world, and maybe even before the first scan if you’re intending to wait that long to make a general announcement. This gives them space to get their head around the issue sooner and means they may be ready to share in genuine joy once the wider announcement is out. Being one of the first to know is a small thing, but also may mean a lot to your friend and make them feel valued and considered. And if the worst should happen in your pregnancy, you may well also find your infertile friend is an excellent source of support. Infertile people are experts in the heartache associated with trying to create new life and can be counted upon not to say “Oh well. it wasn’t meant to be” or “You can just try again.”

I would especially urge you to consider telling early if your friend is going through or about to start an assisted reproduction cycle (IUI/IVF/ICSI etc). They will likely find it much easier to cope if they find out whilst they still have their own hope that the cycle is going to be a success for them than if you show them a scan picture just a few weeks after the failure of treatment. Trust me, I’ve been in that exact position, and I really wish I’d known before the negative result, rather than a couple of weeks later.

3. How you tell will depend a bit on your friend. Personally I think a phone call is the best. It’s more personal and caring than a text or email (which suggests you are hiding from something you find hard). But a phone call is easier for your friend to end than a meeting in person should they wish to cry, shout, scream or react in any other way. We don’t really want to cry in front of you, because we don’t want you to think we’re sad about your news. We’re just incredibly sad for ourselves. Understand too that we may not want you to be the one to comfort us.

Do remember that telling one half of a couple does not constitute telling the whole couple. It’s not the same as for your normally fertile friends, where it does not matter if one finds out on Facebook. If you tell one half of the couple – particularly if you tell the male half – be respectful enough to give them time to break it to the other half before putting on social media. I did not appreciate fining out about a close pregnancy via Facebook because Ian had had the news broken to him whilst we were both at work and, rightly, wanted to tell me when we were both home so he could give me a hug. Two hours was all that we needed.

4. Try to stick to facts. Be honest and hold off the platitudes. It’s fine to say “I appreciate that this might be difficult for you, but I really wanted you to know that I’m pregnant. Please take all the time you need to deal with my news.” Don’t tell us that you’re sorry. Of course you’re not – you wanted a baby. So do we. I’d be more upset if I thought you were sorry it had happened. Don’t say that you wish we could be pregnant too so that we could share it. We wish that with all of our hearts and don’t need a reminder that it isn’t happening. A text about something completely unrelated to babies a few days later could also be a good idea, to help your friend realise that you’re not going to go completely baby mad on her and help her find a way back in to her previous relationship with you.

5. Don’t, whatever you do, discuss the details of the conception. Don’t tell them how quickly it happened. Absolutely do not offer advice on how to conceive – infertiles are experts on the theory and will doubtless know much more than you can imagine. Do not tell them that you struggled if this really isn’t the case. For the record “struggling” would mean taking over a year, or needing some kind of medical intervention to get pregnant. Feeling as though “it will never happen” after three cycles is not struggling. If you were actively trying for less than a year, and didn’t have outside help, please just don’t talk about it.

Especially don’t tell us that it was an accident. Or that you’re not sure if you even want a child. Don’t make jokes about super-sperm, your husband only having to look at you to get you pregnant, or that you can be a surrogate/sperm donor once your pregnancy is completed. Those things are really not funny, nor helpful.

6. Understand that your friend is not angry at you. They are simply deeply, overwhelmingly sad for themselves. We do feel joy at other people’s pregnancies, but it takes time. Try to let your friend know that you understand and give them space or time. Allow them to raise the pregnancy as a topic of discussion, if they want to, rather than raising it yourself. You need to accept that they may not want to talk about it. I’m sure you have plenty of other friends to get excited with so it will not hurt you to focus on things which are not baby related with your infertile friend.

When the baby arrives, ask if they would like to come for cuddles (sometimes it’s what we thrive on) but don’t be offended of the answer is no. It’s not personal. Take our lead on how much we want to be involved. For some people it might mean the world to be allowed to change a nappy, but it might just be too hard for others. Automatically being pushed out because we’re infertile is just as bad as being expected to coo over every picture, however, and our reactions will be very individual, so please take our lead.

7. If you are more of an acquaintance through social media, then please don’t be offended if we don’t rush to join the congratulatory tweets and Facebook comments. I don’t tend to congratulate many (any) pregnancy announcements in these circumstances these days, because I simply find it too hard. Sorry, but again, it’s not personal. You don’t need one extra “Like” or comment to make your news any better than it already is, so please just enjoy it without worrying how many are also enjoying it wit you.

In regards to social media – and even in person announcements with groups of people you don’t know intimately, such as work colleagues – be aware that you don’t necessarily know who amongst your friends is struggling with fertility issues. Never comment on the fact that someone doesn’t seem happy about your pregnancy news, or didn’t bother to comment on it. Again, just bloody enjoy your fantastic good fortune. And be sensitive in what you say. Comments about your “struggle” to conceive – as above – could offend more people than you realise. Just think about whether it’s really necessary before you say it.

I’m not suggesting that you need to smother you joy, censor your happiness or make every picture private. I’m just suggesting that the expectation that everyone else will feel only joy for you is unrealistic. Friends will always feel joy for you, but it may be mixed up in a heap of other emotions you can only guess at.

And always remember that the tables could easily be turned. Just because you are pregnant now doesn’t me that you won’t – like us – experience secondary infertility in future. A little bit of compassion, sensitivity and understanding goes a long way. You’re having a baby. You are so, so blessed. That’s all that really matters.

Nov 12 / Caro

I’m Sorry That You’ll Never Have a Sibling

Dear Thomas,

A year ago, just after your second birthday, I wrote you a letter, explaining just how much we wanted to give you a sibling for your birthday and how sorry I was that it hadn’t happened. I also promised to try the best we could to make it happen this year, for your third birthday.

Your third birthday has been and gone. You loved your new train set and your Buzz Lightyear.

But you still don’t have a sibling.

The sad truth is that you will never have a sibling.

When, a couple of weeks ago, you asked me where your baby sister was, my heart cracked in two. I couldn’t answer that question, not only because the hurt in my heart made it hard for me to speak without tears, but more simply because I don’t know the answer. I know that you believe that there is no question I can’t answer and that “Daddy is good at fixing things”. But I don’t know the answer to this, or why this has happened, and sadly, this is something that Daddy just can’t fix.

It’s not for lack of trying. The one thing I can promise you is that we didn’t give up easily. After I wrote that letter last year, everything went a bit crazy. Just a few short weeks later, we received the crushing news that medical science was our only chance to have another child. So that is what we’ve spent this year doing; Three rounds of IVF. We came close on the first try. So close that for a blissful but brief time I really believed it could happen. That baby would have been due the week before your birthday.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

It seems that another member of our family just isn’t meant to be.

I know that right now, at the age of three, you don’t really care about any of this. You only ask questions about a baby brother or sister because so many people in your world have new baby siblings. You don’t grasp at all what having a sibling really means or the finality of our inability to give you one. My greatest hope has been that the upheavals we, as your parents, have put ourselves through this year haven’t impacted on you negatively. Given what a happy kid you are, I’m pretty confident that reading these letters when you’re old enough may well be the first hint you’ll get of the turmoil we’ve been through.

I also know that there’s every chance that the “older you” will be wondering just what I’m making a fuss about. I know of plenty of people who’ve grown up happily without siblings and say they wouldn’t change it for the world – your own Grandpa included. After all, you cannot miss what you’ve never had.

But then, you don’t know what you’re missing either. And sometimes I just feel so sad that this is being thrust upon us and you, and that none of us have a choice. I can understand where people’s sympathy wanes when it comes your Dad and I. After all, we’ve already had the joy of parenthood once, and perhaps we don’t deserve any more. But you. You’ve done nothing to deserve to be denied the opportunity of a sibling relationship.

This is why secondary infertility really hurts. Of course there’s my own unsatisfied longing to become a mother all over again. But there is also my unsatisfied longing to see you as a sibling. It’s a double punch.

I don’t want you to think for even a moment, however, that my pain at not having another child can eclipse my joy at having you in my life. I hope that you’ll know that intrinsically as you grow up. I’d be lost without your cheeky smile, your infectious giggle and your quirky obsessions. If we can’t have two, thank goodness we have you.

I can’t really say much more that hasn’t already been said in last year’s letter. My feelings are largely the same. The main difference is that back then we had hope.

Now, we have none.

Or at least, no realistic hope.

I’m just grateful that this doesn’t hurt you yet. And if you should grow up to be unhappy about your “only” status, at least we have time until that happens. And I will cherish every moment of your childhood until then.

Just know, kiddo, that I love you endlessly.

That’s the most important thing of all.

Mummy xxx

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Oct 30 / Caro

Letting Go of Hope

The last week-and-a-bit, since finding out that I’m not pregnant, has been tough.

In many ways, life simply goes on. I’m still a parent, and my son is still needs to have me fully present in that role. Whatever I’m feeling, it’s not fair to let it affect him any more than I can help. He knows I’m sad, but I need to make sure that he sees he is not the cause of that. I spend my days proving that to him, no matter how hard I may be finding it.

But when the day is done, and he’s safely snuggled in his bed, the thoughts and feelings that I spend all day avoiding come bubbling back to the surface.

There have been more than a few tears. Hysterical sobs, if I’m honest. The “denial” part of this process has been strongly in evidence as I’ve found myself desperately searching for alternative options – researching overseas clinics and actually contemplating what it would mean to seek further treatment abroad. Looking at different treatment regimens that could work and the cheapest options within reach of home.

The first morning that I dropped Thomas at nursery after the negative test, I was confronted with a group of other parents dropping off their (same age as Thomas) children and every single one was either heavily pregnant or cradling a younger child. And my reaction was to text Ian immediately and tell him we had to try again because I couldn’t cope with the idea of never having another child.

But deep down, I know that we can’t pursue this.

It simply isn’t going to work.

Or at least, it’s so unlikely that I can’t justify the financial and emotional cost to all of us.

It’s not as simple as saying I’m “giving up”. People seem to think of the idea of “not giving up” as somehow strong. But I’m not weak. In fact, i’ve oft been told that tenacity should be my middle name. But sometimes, it’s a more courageous to stop trying. To face up to the reality of the situation rather than keep flogging a dead horse. And I know it’s fairer to us all to accept what we’ve been blessed with and to try to move on. No matter how much we’ve tried to avoid it, there has been a certain degree of putting life on hold in the last two years, and I recognise it needs to stop.

It turns out, though, that I may not be completely giving up after all. Because it turns out that the one thing I just can’t let go of is hope. So even though there will be no more treatment cycles – no more drugs or scans or the very best that scientific technology can offer – I still have a lingering dream, and a tiny spark of hope somewhere deep inside that says “this could still happen”.

While “giving up” on the actual process is relatively straightforward, it turns out that turning off a dream is almost impossible. Even when all logic points to that dream being virtually unattainable, and there being almost nothing you can do to make it happen, it appears in can be difficult to quash that little spark inside saying “maybe, just maybe”.

I’m simply finding it impossible to believe that we won’t have the second child I’ve always pictured in our lives. I still believe it, against all the odds. I believe in it to the point that when I booked our follow up appointment at the fertility clinic and could only arrange it for just over a month away, I slipped in to a fantasy that I could be pregnant by then anyway.

I thought it, and felt it and fantasised about it for a full five minutes, despite being well aware that it’s nigh on impossible.

I don’t know if it’s a crazy form of self preservation, or if I’m just setting myself up for an even bigger fall down the line. I don’t know if I feel this way because I stillwant it to happen so, so much. I don’t know if I should be forcing myself to let go of these hopes and dreams.

More to the point, I don’t know if I can.

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