Getting Back to Basics After Failed IVF
I heard somewhere recently (don’t ask me where as I don’t remember) that simplicity is the opposite of stress and for me, that couldn’t be more true. I can just about cope with overwhelm in my work life but when emotional overwhelm enters the mix, that’s when things get a bit crazy, and that’s been my reality lately.
Call me weird but I actually loved our first cycle of IVF. I loved being methodical with the daily injections, having a plan and generally feeling like I was actually doing something productive that might just give us the baby we so desperately wish for. I’m well aware that I most likely found this so appealing as it gave me a sense of control I love to cling to so dearly!
The two week wait after the embryo transfer was a bit wobbly, but not as wobbly as discovering it didn’t work. We didn’t even get to the pregnancy test stage as I discovered I was bleeding two days before the official test day, in the loo at work. Excellent timing! Oh and the night before we were headed on a family trip away with the in-laws. Tricky timing at its best!
The round had gone so well for us and so much better than we’d expected (I have low ovarian reserve so the fear was we may not get any eggs, let alone any embryos) so we really were on cloud nine come the day of transfer. Despite this, we were practical too and definitely didn’t think it was a done deal. When it doesn’t work all the hopes are dashed in an instant and then the fear floods in of what if it never works?
An unsuccessful round is heartbreaking, of course it is, but what people don’t always realise is that it isn’t just the not getting pregnant that’s hard. It’s everything else and the knock on effect it has on the whole of life. It’s the being in constant limbo. Not being able to make a decision. Constantly feeling that I’m not doing enough, or that I’m doing too much. Questioning everything.
A while ago I wrote a blog post for Karen from 365 Pearls of Wisdom and spoke about infertility in the context of identity and I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. Over recent years I’ve carried this heartbreaking sadness of not being a mum and all the while have been working so hard to give myself various other identities. Lately I’ve been wondering if it’s all been a smokescreen for what’s actually going on in my head, and my heart. Who knows?
It’s so strange as during that ‘honeymoon period’ of the daily injections with all that fuzzy hope and excitement I remember feeling so very grateful for having projects on the go, my side hustle, my busy job, my Instagram pages. And then after the IVF cycle failed and our lovely top grade embryo came to nothing a switch flipped and I just couldn’t keep all those plates spinning anymore.
In the weeks that followed I’ve gone through all kinds of emotions and on the most part just felt that I don’t have the same drive and energy for things. I went from living and breathing weddings and brides to not wanting to look at anything wedding related – no offence to any of my mindful brides who may be reading this, I know you understand.
One thing I know for sure is that by peeling back the layers and really looking at how I’m spending my time and energy I’m feeling so sure that, right now, I simply have to give my energy and focus to my mental health and my wellbeing. I need to nurture my mind, body and soul. Put love and energy into my home and my relationship. Fill my time with reading uplifting books and getting back to doing the self-development work I absolutely love and need to do more than ever. I need to make space for our baby.
It’s mega frightening that, right now, I don’t know what the next few months or years have in store – none of us do, I know. I don’t know what I want from my career. I need to step into this and do what is the hardest thing for me to do – go with the flow! It’s all I can do and I feel a sense of peace just from getting this out of my head and making some sense of the thoughts that have been swirling around my brain for the last few months.
People have always told me I’m “doing so well” but have I been? I think all of us going through this are simply doing our best. Perhaps I’ve not been doing well at all. Perhaps I’ve been suppressing all the feelings and doing everything I can to distract myself. That is the meaning I’m attributing to it all right now, it may not be accurate but this meaning I’ve found is giving me comfort for now. All I can do is what feels right and I’m starting by giving myself a break and simplifying my life. It feels scary and exposing but it also feels really good.