Going into IVF, I was gratefully rammed with information left, right and centre. My clinic talked through the procedure in detail, gave me stacks of leaflets to read through, offered IVF evenings with other couples, and provided plenty of statistics to tuck into. And of course, I turned to books & websites to further pad out my IVF education.
It’s all laid out for you from the very start. All the drugs, the side effects, the chances of success based on your age, the timelines you’ll be working to. Everything is laid bare, except for your expectations. Because actually, despite all the statistics, you go into IVF thinking it will work. Why wouldn’t you? You’ve had issues getting pregnant til this point, but now all of a sudden you’re going to bypass some of the difficult stages, so surely you stand a better chance than you’ve done just doing the ‘baby dance’ at home?
That’s what I thought, at least. I didn’t expect it all to be plain sailing, don’t get me wrong. I even thought it might take 2 tries. But I certainly never expected to be in the position we are now, 4 attempts later and still childless. I’m not special, there’s no reason it should work with me more than anyone else. But I just naively assumed that if we could place an embryo straight into my womb then well, that embryo would be genetically lovely and my womb would welcome it with cosy abandon. Obviously, that’s not been the case.
So with each miscarriage, healing period and subsequent embryo transfer (repeat, as necessary), my hope for the process has understandably been ‘tweaked’. I still have hope, otherwise I wouldn’t put myself through it all. I couldn’t put myself through it all without hope. But that hope is definitely more calculated each time. A balance of positive thoughts merged with a sensible amount of protective cynicism. And even though that’s a slightly sad approach to pregnancy, it’s a necessary one to keep my heart protected.
I wish I could approach each transfer and positive pregnancy test with wide-eyed naivety and joy. I really do. That’s what pregnancy should be. But all I keep being reminded of is the quiet in the scan room, the nervousness of waiting for the news, the anxiety right before the nurse speaks and tells me the fate of that little embryo. Every time. I’ve no other experience of pregnancy except this, so trying to break the pattern is incredibly hard, because we all instinctively try to protect ourselves from emotional trauma. And by having a calculated hope I balance my joy/doubt scale as well as I can.