We meet our embryo for the first time on the big screen
just prior to being implanted!
The day I found out that I wasn't pregnant from our first IVF attempt, I sat calmly at my desk, staring out out over the hot red rooftops, through palm fronds swaying gently in the summer sun and wondered 'what next'?
I didn't cry, although there had been some eye-welling and lump-swallowing as I hung up from the IVF nurse. I felt more hope than anything else. I knew we still had a shot with our frozen embryos and we had agreed to have 3 attempts in total, but it all felt so out of our control now. We'd done our bit. All I had to do was wait and look after myself, which meant not giving in to the temptation to go on a martini-drinking, chocolate-inhaling, sorrow-drowning spree.
The nurse had told me we had to have a month in between each attempt. It was now almost the end of January so that meant we wouldn't be able to try again until March, although it would be a much less invasive procedure. No needles or harvesting of eggs. Just blood tests and ultrasounds to determine the right time to implant the embryo, followed by progesterone pessaries.
I sat at my desk, trying to focus on work, but my head was full of date calculations and tiny frozen embryos and what kind of sushi I was going to finally be able to eat in my holiday from IVF.
I needed to clear my head so I threw on a cossie and ran down to the local ocean pool, rushing through ten laps of freestyle in an effort to clear my head of all that chatter and making myself take joy and revel in a body that, unencumbered by the fragility of pregnancy, was capable of exercising and sweating and drinking chardonnay and taking hot showers and getting cross with people turning right from the left hand lane. All those things you dare not do when carrying a new baby that, despite all evidence to the contrary, might fall out.
Afterwards, I rolled on to my back and stared up at the hot January sky, floating aimlessly, my mind finally clear, all control relinquished.
Perhaps it's true that, in order to open up to the real truths in life, we need to empty our minds to clear the way. Because that's exactly what happened in that moment.
It suddenly hit me that I had been mentally and emotionally holding myself back from conceiving. Those thoughts I'd had all through the first attempt now seemed so negative in hindsight.
"Oh, if it doesn't happen, that's okay, at least I'll know we've tried"
"Doesn't matter if it doesn't happen first go, we still have 2 more attempts left"
"If it doesn't work, it's because of my age/my fibroids getting in the way/some other excuse"
"What will be, will be"
In trying to shield myself from disappointment, all I'd done was set myself up for failure. It was like I was inviting what I DIDN'T want into my life, rather than what I DID want.
I then remembered a friend telling me about a book that helped people to change their mindset from limitation to abundance. Something about the law of attraction and how you can attract what you want into your life.
Now I am normally the world's biggest sceptic. I'd always prided myself in having both feet firmly planted in REAL LIFE and BEING PRACTICAL. I'd rather play poker than read tarot. Heaven and hell? I don't think so. Elvis lives? Get real.
But now I felt I had nothing to lose in changing my mindset and embracing some of the hocus-pocus, universe-will-provide stuff. Maybe it wasn't all hocus-pocus. What if it worked?
The book was called The Secret. That afternoon I found a lonely copy of the hardback in my local second hand bookstore (meant to be??) and started reading. I finished it that night and then jumped on The Secret website and read some more.
I'm not going to go all evangelical on you here, or try to convert you. This is not an ad for The Secret. You can read the book yourself and make up your own mind. As with anything of a self-help nature, we take what we need from these texts and discard the rest.
I, however, found I needed a lot of it and decided to give it a go. I began each day being thankful for all the great things in my life. Just listing all those things in my head and saying thank you. That, on its own, was a really lovely way to start the day.
Then, following the mantra of "Ask, Believe, Receive" I asked, every single day, for a healthy baby. That was it. It felt a lot like praying, but without the guilt and self-reproach.
I wrote exactly what I wanted on a piece of paper and kept it in my desk drawer. I closed my eyes every day and imagined a baby in my arms, how it made me feel, pretending it was real. And, at the risk of sounding like a complete kook, I even bought a tiny baby t-shirt and kept it in my underwear drawer where I would see it every day.
And then this funny thing happened. I actually began to believe it was going to happen. That it was out of my hands completely and that, no matter what the statistics said, I was going to fall pregnant and deliver a healthy baby. I relinquished all control to God or the universe or whoever (which, for people who know me, relinquishing control is the true miracle!) and put all my faith in that belief.
I also started acupuncture, once a week, with a dear Chinese woman in Manly. Every time I saw her she would say "We keep the baby in, yes? We keep the baby in" and she would rub my tummy and smile with her eyes and tell me not to eat ice cream (something about the cold!).
I don't know if it was my new found belief in myself, or the universe saying "What the heck, give the kook a baby", or the weekly acupuncture needles, or Dr Bowman hitting the right spot, or the non-eating of ice-cream, but on April the 2nd this year, I pulled my car over to the curb to take a call and a nurse told me I was pregnant. I was one of the 28% of women aged 40-43 who fell pregnant using IVF! Yee har!! My hand went automatically down to rest on my belly, tears filled my eyes. It was real.
So thank you husband, thank you Dr Bowman, thank you Ping in Manly, thank you universe and thank you 'ball boys and ball girls' (family, nurses, friends, the magic folk in the faraway tree)!
And most of all, thank you baby, for hanging around for 37 weeks and proving that it's okay to have a mother with a few bats in the belfry!
We can't wait to meet you x