- You would have been about 7ib 4oz.
- You would have been quite dinky.
- You would have had a BIG big toe just like your Mum, uncles, grandpa and great grandma in Ireland.
- You would have been loud like your Mum.
- You would have had your Dad's nose and nice ears.
- You would have had blue, blue eyes like the ocean like your Dad.
- You would have crossed your legs and rubbed your feet together like your Dad, uncles, cousins, grandma and grandpa.
- Like your Mum - you would have had a head full of hair. Despite years of saying 'when I have my ginger baby,' you decided to stick two fingers up to the 'strawberry blond' gene that lurks in the background of your strong Irish heritage. Your hair would have been so dark it was almost black.
- You wouldn't have been born with height on your side but as the saying goes the best things come in small packages.
- You would have been born bang on time - just when your Mum was expecting you. No sooner, no later.
- You would have been the most gorgeous, most perfect, most wanted baby in the world and you would have been loved so, so much.
How you were born is of no consequence. After years and years of trying to make you, your entry into the world is really of no importance. Gone are the days of visualising a homebirth with a private midwife in an all singing, all dancing birthing pool in my tiny front room. No need for hypnobirthing, trippy chilled out music with ambient lighting or a supportive husband tending to my back with a tens machine. Bring on the pain as with every painful contraction it means I'm getting closer to meeting you. Give me a back-to-back labour that is excruciatingly painful that lasts for days on end, give me an epidural, give me a rushed delivery in the car on route to the hospital, give me an emergency c-section - give me a birth - just give me any birth.
I don't know if you would have been a boy or a girl. I've lost you twice now so either or. Your sex is not important. I say both versions of your name in my head. I've tried to guard your names over the years, but as the years trundle on, more and more friends and acquaintances have their babies and they have your names. Sometimes your name changes in my quest to have a baby with a unique name. After 8 years of trying for you, I realise this is a fruitless exercise. When one day you do (hopefully) arrive I'll name you what I want. No one has a monopoly on names. And if anyone accuses me of 'copying your name' I'll tell them I've had your name on my list for years. When I dream of you sometimes you're a girl, sometimes you're a boy. All you need to know is that you were so, so wanted.
You would have been a Crystal Palace FC fan whether you wanted to be one or not! Like your cousins, you would have had your very own kit with your name on the back.
You would have been the baby of the bunch. The runt of the litter. Surrounded by a crew of mad giggling aunties who were all so excited to have welcomed you to our motley crew. Your fairy godmother would have been your Mum's pregnancy oracle. She knows every detail of how you were made and your journey here. She would have dropped everything for your arrival and she would have loved you so, so much. The Little Miss of Ibiza would have you by the hand the moment you could walk and you would look at her with wonder as the crazy, adorable little nutter that she is showed you the ropes. You'd get muddy with The Dude as he showed you where all the dinosaurs are in Crystal Palace park, and you can guarantee your Aunty Wes would have bought you a copy of 'Calm Down Boris' before your arrival. You would have had the biggest crew of ready made little mates who had your back.
But none of this has happened.
All of this is in my imagination.
I don't know if I'll ever meet you in person.
Even with the Wizard of Harley Street on my team, you are yet to become a reality.
Years of healthy living, years of tweaking diets, years of hope, years of sadness.
People's words of 'congratulations on reaching the first hurdle' are playing over and over in my head. Unless you have travelled the journey I have you'd realise that is a platitude that a fertile person should never say to an infertile when they excitedly tell you 'I'm pregnant.' It's closer to the tenth hurdle of that round of IVF. To get a BFP is THE DREAM. To have that BFP turn to miscarriage is the nightmare. For it to happen twice is the nightmare on Groundhog Day. For it to happen after 5 rounds of IVF is cruel. For it to happen when you have no embryos left in the freezer signals the end of the dream. It means despair. It means I have to find strength to get back up again and try and get past what must be the one-hundredth hurdle - not the first. The first hurdle is making enough good quality eggs my love but in your naivety how are you supposed to know that? In your mind it is the first hurdle. In my mind a BFP is a massive achievement and marks progress and hope that the impossible is possible.
When an infertile woman gets her BFP everything above happens in an instant. A millisecond. No amount of your caution or warnings of not to get excited will stop that from happening. If I ever get a BFP again my excitement will return. As will my fear. When your friend who has struggled for years to get a BFP finally gets one be excited for her. Keep your caution to yourself. She's petrified enough and needs all the hope and positivity she can muster. Her entire journey to get to being 7 weeks and 3 days pregnant has taken 8 years, 4 of which include fertility treatment. For this entire time she's been scared but has done everything in her power to be positive. She really doesn't need anymore caution or fear - she has enough of her own to go round. She is so in-tune with her body she Googles every single twinge. And when the blood appears on her liner after a breathtaking cramp on the train to work (that she tried to convince herself was stretching ligaments), the blood drains from her face, she goes dizzy and she has to grab the wall to steady herself. Her mind races. She needs to get home. What does she say at work? She needs her baby to stay. Someone make the inevitable stop. She knows pain that you have not one iota of what that feels like (and she doesn't want you to feel her pain. No one should ever have to feel her pain or deal with society's discrimination and judgement against childless women). Just be there to pick her up if it all crumbles. She can't get all of the 'told you so's' out of her head. Yes, you were right not to get excited - happy now?
It's 10:27am on 6 April 2016. Exactly a week ago today I was on day 4 of my new job. Preparing to rush home and 'rest' as you'd just signalled that my dream yet again might be disappearing. I left at 10:55am, I was home by 12:10pm and I was covered in blood. Saturated. Your Dad opened the door to find me crying, desperatly trying to hide the blood with my coat, I was finally home and I could crumble, peel my saturated clothes off and get to the loo and let nature do her worst. I thought you might be taking me with you there was so much blood (part of me wishes you had). There was no warning. In the morning you were with me, in the afternoon, you were gone. I was left bereft, in pain, bleeding heavily (little did I know the bleeding and pain was set to ramp up a gear over the next few days. The bleeding still hasn't stopped.) A week ago I was full of panic and fear and yet I was also calm - I knew what was coming but I didn't know what to do with myself. And I still don't know what to do with myself.
I just want you back.
The second time round you made your presence felt immediately. I was certain I was pregnant before test day - I didn't need a blood test to tell me that I had a baby on board. The highway of veins that exploded over my body a week after transfer were evidence enough for me. Bring back my ferocious temper that scared your Dad, what I would give to spit a sip of wine out as it tastes of vinegar, or to have a mouth that tasted like I'd been sucking on coppers. As for peeing - that's when I knew you had really left me - the last time I was up to pee in the night was 8 nights ago.
I diligently jabbed myself every morning with progesterone and blood thinners, I took metformin first thing to keep my blood sugars low (and I hate metformin but will take it every day of my life if it means I get to meet you one day), the steroids came after breakfast to stop my body rejecting you (fat load of good they did), oestrogen followed and daily progesterone pessaries were added to the mix just to be sure.
Out of all the would-be Mum and Dads past and present, I know no one who wanted you more than your Mum and Dad. We are more than ready to be your Mum and Dad. We've wanted you longer than some of our friends with children have even known each other. I don't want or care about anything else. And yet here I am, 8 years on since your Dad and I started trying to make you and we are back at square one with our savings diminished. Time has stopped. How could you leave me so abruptly and violently? I'm searching for answers to questions that I'll never find. And the only explanation is that it's down to me. I did everything in my power to make you and keep you, but for some reason, you couldn't stay.
What now? What is your Mum supposed to do now? How can she ever be happy if you're not here?
- She'll take Dong Quai and Shatavari to try and dampen her immune response.
- She'll introduce fresh ginger and organic apple cider vinegar into her daily routine.
- She'll go and get a Mayan Abdominal Massage to try and get her womb to tilt the right way - that must be the reason you couldn't stay? You just weren't comfortable.
- She'll go to acupuncture, meditate and become a yogi master.
- She'll continue to be the IVF oracle and she'll battle down the painful tears when more pregnancy and birth announcements are made.
- She'll hate herself for being jealous.
- She'll hate herself, even more, when friends get their BFP (no matter how hard fought their battle is) and all she can think is that it should be her and not them as she's tried harder for years. She's done EVERYTHING but they drank and smoked and got wasted - why them and not her? It doesn't mean she isn't happy for you when you tell her, it doesn't mean she wants to be excluded, it doesn't mean she'll steal the baby when s/he arrives, it just means that you have achieved the one thing that she wants and with relative ease in comparison to her battle and she finds that so hard to deal with. Be gentle with your friend. She loves you and she really is very happy for you, but her pain squashes your joy. Give her time.
- She'll scream it's not fair.
- She'll feel guilty.
- She'll cry daily for you.
- She'll start running again.
- She'll rant on this blog intermittently.
- She'll pretend to be happy.
- She'll throw herself into work so she can save to try and make you again.
- She'll repeat the cycle again and again and again.
- She'll do whatever it takes. Whatever it takes to make her husband a Dad. Whatever it takes to take his pain away.
- She'll tolerate people's well-meant advice and she'll try oh so hard not to scream F**K OFF to all the well-meant platitudes.
- She's somehow going to get through 15 June and 15 November. These were the dates that you were supposed to arrive.
- She's avoiding Christmas this year - like the plague. Please don't make her join in. It's suffocating and painful and she wants nothing to do with it.
Maybe not praying to St. Joseph is the reason you left me? Maybe I need to go to confession and confess all my sins so I am forgiven? Maybe then I'll stop being punished and maybe then one day I'll meet you? Maybe I should be on my knees?
But you see I am on knees. I've been on my knees for years. I'll do whatever it takes.
I'm sorry I couldn't look after you for 9 months.
Mummy is sorry x