You got me. I fibbed. Or rather, held back the truth, the whole truth.
The sabbatical thing? It was all about trying to get pregnant via IVF.
Well no. Not all about that. Say 90%.
I wanted to make sure I was surrounded by comfort and freedom and daily options to promote happiness and calm into my world. To spend more time with the people I love. Limiting the daily anxieties like commuting, hosting meetings, hitting targets, presenting, leading, being strong, having answers, being indoors with no natural light.
Stuff that hadn’t worried me all that much in the past but when you’re 35 and years into trying to create a new life and a place to keep it safe whilst uncertain of how many assisted fertility attempts you have left, these things felt like mountains that I just couldn’t climb weighed down with a backpack full of infertility worries.
And all that stuff just seemed so utterly unimportant compared to the trials of trying to get and stay up the duff. Although simple for some. I was never going to regret taking just 3 months of my whole life back to prioritise the most important thing to me and my husband. Not to obsess over it, but just to offer it the best chance and myself some time out. Some space.
Grateful to my employers for supporting this request and sad to leave some colleagues I’d rather count as friends for the 3 month period, this was my time. I left the office on my last day teary eyed. Stepping into the unknown and hoping and praying for the outcome we longed for. Desperate that the next time I’d be taking my seat there, I’d be proudly displaying a Baby on Board badge. Work pals waved me off, most of them thinking I was off to have a jolly nice break.
We’d come so far too. From years of trying naturally without much of a care or worry, filled with the giddy belief that I was the most fertile woman ever. Then endlessly seeing negative pregnancy tests month after month.
So on to the next level and panic purchasing ovulation sticks, swiftly followed by the £100 advanced fertility monitor thing. And stuff you squeeze up your bits to help the sperm find their way. And still no positive.
And then a numb moment where you’re like… ‘hmmm, could something be up?’
We moved on to getting the fertility MOT ball rolling. The blood tests. The results of my hormone levels from LH and FSH to AMH (which sits in the ‘low’ bracket). Scans. Sperm counts. Hanging on to specialists every word. To it being ‘my fault’; the endometriosis shock, surgery, releasing my trapped bloodied ovary and then into recovery.
Then came the selection of an IVF Clinic. Attending those first consultations with your heart in your hands. To injecting and stimulating and egg collection. To embryos making it to day 5 blastocysts in a dish in London. Hoorah! Then a cervix that was uninviting to the IVF consultants unable to get into my uterus that resulted in aborted fresh embryo transfers and more hysteroscopys. Two of which failed.
Being wheeled out of further surgeries that should’ve been 20 minutes long but turned into 3 hours. To frequent invasion and resulting vulnerability and an increasing lack in personal confidence, all ways round. To false passages being created in my womb. To waiting and healing. To blinding physical pain. To not feeling sexy or desirable. To slinging dignity out the window.
And then returning to work after each secret surgical set back. ‘Yeah, I’m fine!’
Then taking a breath and optimistically moving into holistic, gentle complimentary approaches from reflexology to acupuncture. To womb yoga and massage. To hypnotherapy and an ‘IVF Companion’. To the start of the sabbatical and seeing a fertility nutritionist and making diet tweaks. To alllll the reading. To supplement swallowing. To meditation and sitting in the woods. To the outdoors and breathing. To trusting even though it felt in vain at times.
To our precious frozen embryos and the reality that in a 3 month period we could feasibly attempt 3 transfers.
And then pregnancy in month two. An unbelievable, wonderful, miraculous pregnancy. Positive pee tests. BFPs.
To failure. A really rare non viable pregnancy.
And then back to uncertainty.
The other 10% of the sabbatical focus had been about learning and exploring interests. Reminding myself who I really am. What lies beneath. What am I good at? What lights me up? What am I here to do? Which you could argue, brings the IVF focus of my sabbatical back up to 100%, these things weaving into the bigger picture of creating the best environment for both me and our embryos.
But the grand plan hasn’t worked out. And I feel lost and scared. Fearful of going from pregnant life just days ago and all the dreams and plans accompanying the new chapter that was finally unfolding. To thudding back into life before the pregnancy, as we are forced to wait some time before we try again.
Yet I know I’m lucky. There are women who have birthed sleeping babies. Or have no chance of natural conception despite the whizz bang technology available these days. Their hearts cracked and their belief shattered. But yet they muster spirit and determination and carry on. I bloody marvel at them.
Today I feel markedly better than yesterday. Yesterday I felt like a ghost in my own home. Wishy washy, pointless, annoying. Just loitering and bumping into things. Forgetful. Tear stained. Feeling sorry for myself.
Today I am tussling with the option to feel a little more positive. It’s there, in reach. I’m just a bit too tired still to grasp at it with both hands. I guess I need to start looking at this as just not being the right time. That my body is capable and that really, we’re just a few months away from another shot at our dream.
Yesterday I was in bed until 1pm. A luxury? No. I just felt stuck. Right now it’s 10.20am and I’m considering a shower and then publishing this blog.
I’m still losing blood which is a constant reminder of what started a week ago today. When our happiness unravelled.
I’m thinking of calling The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust today for a chat too. For advice and a little counselling.
For now, to my far left I have a snoring, stinking sausage dog that I plan to rock awake and have a quick snug with. I mean, he really stinks. But I like it. And directly beside me on my bedside table is another fresh green smoothie made by my awesome husband, who popped it there before giving me a kiss and heading off to work.
And on the doorstep outside my front door? Another bunch of flowers.
Love, love, love.