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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“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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The Baby Who is Not Here

I’ve read enough about conception and miscarriage at this point to have come across, over and over again, the sentiment that a baby is real to its parents from the moment the second line appears on the test. Hell, I’ve experienced it myself. When you are desperate to have a child, all your hopes and dreams seem pinned on that stick and its result. When the outcome is positive, it adds colour and flesh and vibrancy to a hitherto merely imagined scenario, even though it may still be tinged with deep, deep caution. Even though you know that it still may not come to fruition.

When you go through IVF, however, the second line is not even necessary. From the moment that your cycle is planned in meticulous detail, you know roughly when any resulting baby will be due, and that is where it starts. Even when you’ve been disappointed again and again in the past. Even when you’ve had positive outcomes that went on to end in miscarriage. Even when you know that all the odds are stacked against you and your rational head wants to overrule your hopeful heart. Still, the idea that a baby could be joining your family all those months down the line is impossible to resist. And after all, you have to believe that it will work in order to keep putting yourself through it.

Arguably you could think that way about each and every cycle that you try naturally. After all, if you have no cause to believe otherwise, there is a chance each month that this will be the one where the stars align and eggs and sperm meet at the right time in the right place and do absolutely everything that they need to do to make a new life. You could, if you were so inclined, mourn every period not simply because it means that you did not make it this month, but because you flushed your potential child down the toilet.

That is going further than I think entirely rational, though. In the end we all know that the chances in any given month are slim. It’s likely that if you don’t get pregnant, no fertilisation even occurred.

And that is how IVF is really different. A full two weeks before anyone could pee on a stick, days before anything is even put in your uterus, you get the long awaited phone call from the embryologist to let you know how your eggs and sperm “got on”. And assuming you don’t face the heartbreak of a zero fertilisation cycle, in the moments of that phone call, the world tips on its axis. What you hear in the call is how many potential babies you’ve made.

It’s more than simply knowing that you had plenty of unprotected sex and could feasibly be pregnant. You can’t help but see these as bigger chances. This is a real, potential child with all of its genetic material right there is that dish. You know exactly when that child was conceived and therefore you also know exactly when it should be joining the world as a newborn baby.

If only everything else goes right, of course.

When it doesn’t work, that loss is far more similar to the loss of miscarriage than to a negative pregnancy test or period arriving after a “natural” attempt at baby making.

I know this, because I’ve experienced it all.

If our final IVF attempt last year had worked, my due date would have been tomorrow. And as a diabetic with a previous c-section behind me, I would no doubt have come under pressure to have an elective section at 38 weeks. Which means that baby would have been born almost two weeks ago, on our fifth wedding anniversary.

I’ve been waiting for this date since that fateful telephone call last October. Still etched across my heart, despite the fact that no baby has been growing in my belly.

I couldn’t erase it. Nor could I ignore it.

It is impossible for me not to mourn that child that might have been. Even though he or she was never anything more than a collection of our genetic material. It never implanted in to the lining of my uterus. Never grew arms and legs or facial features. It never even had a heartbeat.

But it was my baby.

My last chance at another child.

I’ll never be able to erase the sadness of its loss, either.

“I Want a Brother” and Other Things That Make Me Immeasurably Sad

I see a lot of blog posts about positivity. About happiness. About the simple things that bring joy.

This is not one of those posts.

It may not be “the done thing” to make a list of negatives, and there may not be a linky for “top sad moments of the week”, but this place is my honest outlet. The place to share and offload how I’m really feeling, downs and all.

And this week had a real downer.

Last Wednesday, amongst recurring tantrums that I wasn’t doing exactly what Thomas wanted (despite his lack of communication on what that was) as we played together, and outbursts of anger that he wasn’t capable – or at least thought he wasn’t capable – of doing certain things that he wanted came a mega strop at me. It was provoked by my momentary unavailability to be a train, or whatever the game of the moment was. I was trying to prep for dinner, hang a load of wet laundry and answer a couple of important – as in “must-be-done-before-5pm-type – emails simultaneously. All I’d asked of Thomas, after a day spent in London together, and then playing together for a couple of hours, was that he play on his own for a bit.

If there is one thing that my son is not great at, it’s playing on his own. He’s a people person and always wants a playmate.

So when I asked him again to give me five minutes he hurled a real cracker at me:

“I want a brother. Then I’ll always have someone to play with me.”

It’s fair to say, I finished up in bits. I know that’s he’s not capable of intentionally trying to wound with words and that he couldn’t possibly comprehend their power. But my goodness, it fucking hurt.

Leaving the obvious aside for a moment, it was a sock in the gut because it was the preschooler equivalent of “I hate you.” In that one small sentence, he was telling me that I wasn’t good enough because I don’t play with him enough. He wanted someone other than me, who would be a better playmate.

It doesn’t matter that the rational part of my brain knows that this isn’t true – I spend huge amounts of time immersed in his games, down on the floor, building train tracks, acting out the fat controller, playing snap or snakes and ladders. We play with Playdoh and paints. We cook together and stick stickers together. It’s a simple fact of life that, sadly, I also have other things that must be done and I cannot be one hundred percent available to Thomas one hundred percent of the time.

But that’s not how Thomas perceives it, and no matter how silly, it still hurts.

But of course, it’s worse than that. Because I would dearly have loved to give Thomas a sibling. If you read regularly, you cannot fail to know that.

I know that that too is not as simple as it sounds. Even if we had fallen pregnant the first month of trying, that child would be almost two and so only really now beginning to be capable of participating in Thomas’s games. And that is assuming that they even wanted to. Having another child could have raised a whole lot of different issues, with Thomas constantly screaming that they were ruining his games, or taking his toys. With me unable to leave them together for fear of them falling out or hurting one another. Having another child is no guarantee that they’ll be friends or playmates. I know that.

But once again, it’s Thomas’s perception that counts. He’s suddenly decided that a sibling would equal a permanent play mate, and for a child who always wants to be with others, that’s huge.

And of course, it’s the one thing that I can’t do.

I would give everything I own to make it happen. But I can’t. And this, the first time of Thomas openly articulating a request for a sibling, stung me to my very core.

Somehow this moment opened the floodgates and turned my sensitivity meter to high, because for the next twenty four hours, everything seemed to hurt. I’m getting pretty good at suppressing the sadness associated with our infertility, and avoiding the things that trigger it, Thomas’s comment was like picking at a scab, and then I just couldn’t leave it alone.

Amongst other things, I took myself on to Facebook. I don’t really use Facebook anymore, and there’s an obvious reason why not: It seems that EVERYONE has either just had a baby, or is pregnant. Scrolling through all the pictures in my newsfeed made me realise just how many people who hadn’t even had their first child when we started trying for a second now have their second child too. Which in turn made me realise that from the point that we started to try for Thomas, to the point that we started to try again having already had him was a shorter period of time that we’ve now been attempting to have another baby. I don’t know why that upset me specifically, but it did. Possibly because it made me realise just how much of my life this has taken up.

Then elsewhere online, there seemed to be a lot of baby talk and rather than turn a blind eye and move on to something else, I kept reading. I saw conversations unfolding where people talked almost carelessly of how and when they will have another child. They talked about how long they are leaving it to start trying because it needs to fit in with their plans, or they have a dream about how it will all fit together.

When I see stuff like this I feel like butting in and telling them to just get the hell on with it, because it turns out that you can’t truly plan these things. Fertility has no regard for your dreams. I want to cringe at their naivety that it can all be so easy just because they’ve done it once before.

But then, once I was that naive. I did it too.

And the honest truth is that, for the very vast majority of people, their plans and dreams will come to fruition.

Just for us, they didn’t.

How I wish for those carefree moments of assumption back.

How I wish it were all different.

How I wish I could give Thomas the sibling he asked for.

Talking to Thomas About Diabetes

I’ve read a few things from mothers with diabetes over the last couple of years about the conversations they’ve had with their kids about their condition. Some of these people have had much older children, capable of really understanding the ins and outs of diabetes, and from whom it would be almost impossible to hide the tell tale signs of living with it. Others have pre-school age kids, more like Thomas. And it is some of those whose kids astound me with how much they already seem to know.

I have a confession to make on that front. I’ve never, knowingly at least, used the word “diabetes” in front of my now three-and-a-quarter (the quarter’s important dontchaknow?!) year old son. And I’m pretty sure it’s not a word which is in his otherwise extensive vocabulary.

Obviously Thomas has seen my insulin pump, and asked what it is. He’s seen my testing kit, seen me using it and revelled in the fact that it churns out numbers – his second favourite thing after trains (yeah, I’m waaaay down on that list!) He’s seen me chugging Lucozade to treat a low and asked what it is, or what I’m doing. In every single one of these cases I’ve replied with the very generic “Mummy’s medicine”.

It’s an answer he happily accepts. He knows that he has medicine when he doesn’t feel well, but he also knows gets what he calls “medicine” every day in the form of vitamin syrup, so “medicine” doesn’t have purely negative connotations for him. And it’s not an outright lie. These are things that I’m doing, or taking, in order to keep myself healthy and ready for whatever Thomas needs from me.

I don’t really know *why* I haven’t told him more than that. Or, at least, it’s not simple to explain.

To say it’s because I don’t think he would understand would be doing him a massive disservice. He’s a bright boy and, more than that, a deeply empathetic and caring one too. It’s fair to say that I currently have no idea exactly how I would explain it to him, how much detail to include or what words to use, but that is as much because I haven’t given any thought as because it might be hard to do. I’m sure that I could come up with the words if I really wanted to.

I do wonder sometimes if it’s because I don’t want Thomas to regard me as I some way “broken”. Thomas sees me as his Mummy – an absolute, reliable constant. He knows that I give good hugs, always come when he needs me and can kiss almost any bump or scrape better. I don’t want anything to cloud that image.

It’s rather like how I felt back when I was a new mum and was witness to debates about post-pregnancy bodies and “snapping back in to shape”. Back then, I couldn’t actually have cared less how I looked because Thomas didn’t. All he cared about was my presence. All he wanted from my body was its warmth and security and milk – all of which he got in abundance. I want Thomas to go on not caring about my body and it’s workings, or lack thereof, just the person that I am to him. I could argue that I don’t want to do anything to jeopardise the perfection that Thomas sees in me even if I don’t see it myself, no matter how daft that may sound.

And of course, there is what other people might think of me to consider too. If Thomas were acutely aware of diabetes, I have no doubt at all that it would be a daily topic of conversation around the pre-school lunch table. Thomas can’t help but keep re-iterating to everyone there that his mummy wears glasses (and contact lenses). It’s just a fact about me that he’s fond of repeating. But what if I only wore lenses and I weren’t comfortable for everyone to know? And honestly, where diabetes is concerned, I don’t necessarily want everyone to know.

That may sound strange coming from someone who posts the intimate details of her life online (hello, not sharing my full name) and someone who is incredibly comfortable with impromptu advocacy and education sessions when the teachable moment arises. I guess I’m fine talking about it openly once people know, but the letting them know in the first place is awkward for me. I’m never sure how people might react and a lot of that relates to my profession and how people would regard me if they knew I had a laundry list of chronic health problems with diabetes right up there at the top. Chief amongst my faults is caring too much what people think of me, but once that information is out there, I can’t take it back, so I’m hesitant around those who don’t know.

And maybe it really is as simple as that. Maybe I’m just hesitant about letting my son know at all because it’s something I just find difficult to do even when the person in question loves me more unconditionally that anyone else in my world.

Maybe it’s just too hard.

Before I started writing this post, and I wondered to myself exactly what the reasoning was behind my reticence, it crossed my mind that I might be protecting him from a reality that he shouldn’t need to worry about yet. But at the same time I realised that Thomas is about to reach the very age I was when I was diagnosed, and it became not just an abstract idea, or something that applied to someone else, but my very own reality.

Perhaps it’s time to give my son the credit he is due, get over my hang ups and let him process the information in the way I’m very sure he is capable of doing. After all, it may be hard for me to share the story with him, but it must have been a whole lot harder for my parents to share it with me.

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Any tips on how to have conversations that you find hard with pre-school aged children will be gratefully received!

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.

Misery Loves Company

I’m pretty sure that some of the feelings I’m about to admit to in this post make me a pretty despicable person. But you know something? They’re real. I can’t help how I feel, and actually admitting it makes no difference to who I am, because whether I’m honest about it or not, this is my truth. I know that I shouldn’t waste time on such negative feelings, or concerning myself with the lot of others, but again, I just can’t help it. My blog has always been real, so here is a little more of my reality:

Something that comes as an inevitable side order, a buy-one-get-one-free of sorts, with infertility is jealousy. I know that I’ve touched on it before, but it’s completely impossible to keep the green-eyed monster entirely at bay when you desperately want a baby and it seems as though it is happening all around you. For everyone but you.

My general motto and reminder to myself is that I cannot know each person’s own, personal experience. What I frequently see are the bumps and the babies. But I recognise that these are each the product of a journey that I do not see and cannot know. Those apparent happy endings may be the result of years of heartache; Failed efforts at fertility treatment; Multiple miscarriages. I remember that and, many times in the last couple of years it has helped to soothe my sore, impatient soul, wracked with longing and envy.

Lately, though, my green-eyed monster seems to have morphed in to a new beast. One that is turning me in to what feels like a very nasty, bitter kind of person. One that is unleashing thoughts that I am – and should be – utterly ashamed of.

I guess my new super jealous state is defendable, if not entirely excusable. It’s been a couple of months since we smashed in to the brick wall at the end of the road. Since the light at the end of the tunnel went out. Ours is no longer a journey in motion. My hope can no longer be fuelled by tales of triumph over adversity or success after repeated failure. When I see a round, pregnant belly I can no longer tell myself that one day I too will get to rub away the kicks and thumps of a growing life inside me again. And tempering my envy with the fact that this may have been a longed for, hard won pregnancy is no longer enough.

All of a sudden, my jealousy extends even to those whose battles I know. Those women who have experienced the pain of infertility and put themselves through IVF, ICSI or other invasive, unpleasant and costly assisted reproductive techniques. Those women who’ve had to wait patiently for this, their shining moment. It shames me to say it, but I begrudge even them – the ones who truly know infertility – their happy outcomes. Whereas once upon a time anyone overcoming infertility was a cause of genuine happiness (and of course a source of hope too) now I can’t bear to hear of those who got lucky on their first round of IVF. Especially with twins! I can’t help but think we were only even allowed two embryos on round one because they were such poor quality, because we were supposed to have good odds. Yet here we are in the total failure pile, whilst for others it seems to just work. Two embryos in, two babies out. (I know that twins are no walk in the park, and have never been my desire, but it’s more the super success they seem to represent, when we could not even get a single embryo to stick.) I hate myself for thinking it, but it just doesn’t seem very fair. I cannot stop myself wondering why them, and not us?

I know it makes me sound like a terrible person, but I cannot help but roll my eyes now when I hear people describe themselves as “devastated” because their embryo transfer was cancelled due to hyper-stimulation but they’ve got six, or seven or more embryos in the freezer. I can’t take it seriously when they say they feel as though it will never work for them. Right there they already have more opportunities that I’ve ever had. They’re right there in the trenches of infertility, but I still envy them. I still want what they have.

I know it doesn’t do to compare. Fertility is so complex and so individual that one person’s story rarely has any relevance for another’s. But it’s all part of the horrible jealously I’ve succumbed to. The feeling, no matter whether right or wrong, that having a single successful cycle is nothing like trying over and over. That feeling that everybody else is achieving something that I cannot. Will not.

And it really does feel like “everyone”. When you try for a baby, pregnancies and newborns suddenly pop up everywhere and this is in no small part because you’re primed to notice them. I know that not “everyone” is really pregnant. But within infertility communities I struggle to find the people like me. The ones who’ve been forced to walk away empty handed (or more specifically with empty uteri). The ones for whom it never worked, never mind working first time, or more than once or with twins.

And yes, before anyone raises it, I’m still very aware of just how blessed I am to have one child, and these feelings do not for a moment dilute that. I understand that I too could be the object of others’ jealousy as I have a happy, healthy three year old. And I also don’t for a moment think that these women who’ve had such great outcomes should censor themselves, or that they should not be proud and happy in their success and share in any and all ways that they wish – I know I would in their shoes. But equally, I can’t force myself not to feel this way, or pretend that I don’t.

I suppose what I do want is to feel less like the only one in my situation. It’s true that misery loves company. And whilst I truly wouldn’t wish the experience of infertility on anyone else, right now I’d love to surround myself with people who not only “get” infertility, but “get” that it isn’t always able to be overcome.

There isn’t always a happy ending.