Today is the last day before I go back to full time work after 3 months off. By the time I post this I’ll probably already be sat at my desk trying to figure out what my login is.
Did I achieve what I ultimately dreamed of in this time off? No. See here about that.
However, I have for the first time experienced the unparalleled joy of being pregnant, even for a very short time. Ecstasy I’d go as far to say.
I still have the positive pregnancy tests in my knickers drawer. I can’t throw them out even though they’re faded and the lines have bled along the strip. I was pee testing at home on those first few knife edge days where the IVF Clinic would phone me after pregnancy blood tests every 48 hours, hesitant to confidently say I was pregnant as the first two tests saw my HCG levels starting out low (first one was 14.9 which more than tripled to 51 and then hit 116.9 at which point I got the call to say ‘Vicky you’re pregnant!’)
By the time the ectopic was discovered as I lay on a hospital bed bleeding, my HCG was just over 2,500.
My body was very pregnant.
I pee tested to see those lines for myself. Lines I’d dreamed of for years. To see them grow darker and stronger. The saying ‘I can’t believe me eyes’ never truer.
I loved it. Feeling magical as I floated around ever aware of the likely goings on inside my uterus. Finally downloading a pregnancy app, albeit in a bit of disbelief. Feeling a little fraudulent. Feeling blessed and grateful.
It was completely glorious.
Would it be a boy or girl?
Would it actually be born on Christmas Day?
But enough now because you know what? I’m so, so happy to have experienced the bits before the ectopic unfolded. They were what I’d wanted for so long and I got them.
I’ve said before that this IVF/infertility journey feels like a multi level game that we strive to complete. We mustn’t give up.
From level 1 and stimulating our bodies with needles to kickstart our ovaries and egg maturity, to level 2 and waiting for the call about how many eggs were successfully retrieved. Then waiting again to see if we’ve made level 3 and how many, if any, fertilised overnight in a dish. On to level 4 and which ones, again if any, made it to blastocyst stage with a ‘day 5’ blastocyst being the desired outcome. Extra points for those badboys. Then on to level 6 and the transfer. Did any survive the thaw? High five little embies! Then 7, did it implant? Am I pregnant? 100 bonus points! 8 and the HCG level readings to see if the pregnancy is progressing every 48 hours.
All the while you take inspiration from Sonic and jump up, blasting through positivity rings in an attempt to THINK POSITIVE ALL THE TIME.
It goes on and on. It tests your nerves and mindset beyond belief. It can be so exhausting. So much is unknown as you’re scrabbling for any small sign, twinge or sensation that indicates promotion to the next level.
I’ve never wanted to be promoted more in my life. I’ve never been more scared of toppling down a slippery snake back to a lower level, or worse, back to the start.
So I guess we’re now somewhere around level 5 again now. We have two embryos left, on ice. We have one more attempt on the NHS.
During a recent call with the hospital, I was advised that I can start my vitamins again, including folic acid which would’ve been completely depleted when I got the methotrexate injection to dissolve the pregnancy. So I’m building up again, replenishing the stores to make sure that sometime later this summer when we’ll be trying again, my body will be as welcoming as possible.
I now see why people going through IVF often see years fly by with no baby. The hurdles and complications that can arise and set you back are utterly unpredictable.
Going back to work does make me nervous. I’m really different now. I’ve had a huge dose of perspective that perhaps only people who’ve had fertility struggles can relate to. My ultimate focus in life hasn’t changed, and it won’t. All I can do is see how I go. No pressure. Stay calm, stress free. Do what I need to do to remain healthy, body and mind.
I’ve heard from so many caring colleagues over this last month especially, I’m really lucky to work with them all.
But the sabbatical, although not gone according to our hopes, has been so brilliant. You all should do it!
Our time is precious, who knows how much of it we’re going to be graced with, how much of it we will be healthy and able for. What we do with it therefore is crucial. To have some extended time to have more choice every single day has been unreal.
The ectopic sort of fucked up the last month if I’m honest. I would’ve been signed off for most of that period probably had I been at work. Not just because of the physical effects, the stuff you can see and witness, but the overwhelming mental toll too. During this time friends both new and old have swarmed John and I. Their comforting words keeping us buoyant. And John and I, although already strong have grown more as a couple as a result too.
So, not all bad then?
I mean this here blog has had the most traffic it’s ever seen too.
To mark the end of my time off, I’m sat here at a TedxLondon event on ‘confidence’ in a London Town shook by last nights London Bridge attack.
Attending this event was a lady I met on Instagram while in hospital a little over a month ago. We were both searching ‘#ectopicpregnancy’ as we lay petrified in our respective hospital beds, both suffering this cruel form of pregnancy and urgently seeking info and reassurance.
We both share the same desire to come together with other women, women like us, to help spread awareness and support of ectopic pregnancy and other issues that can often leave us feeling alone and scared.
Wish me luck for tomorrow.