We went to Rhyme Time at the library yesterday. I immediately laid eyes on a mother who I'd seen a couple of months ago with a huge bump and a little boy of three scampering at her feet. The bump was gone and in its place was a tiny newborn lying on a blanket by her side while she sang songs with her first born. I stared - I couldn't help myself. It was almost like I felt invisible and as if watching a TV screen, I was entranced by the scene before me. The baby got passed to other mummies who wanted desperately to enjoy a moment re-living those early days. I didn't feel anger nor jealousy as I gazed across, only sadness and a heavy sense of isolation from this fertile 'club' of mothers, most of whom seemed to have a small baby and toddler in tow. I tried to imagine how I'd feel if I'd had to hold the infant - Would I cry? Would I feel bitterness in my heart? Or would I simply pretend to myself that I didn't care? I didn't know. I almost wanted to know so as to address the pain. But I just sat on the periphery and watched.
As soon as we left the library, my mood dipped. I would never feel at ease with mums in that situation, not unless they knew.....not unless I offered to share my story. But sometimes you don't want pity, nor to be the party pooper amongst the group. So you have to keep quiet and remain a stranger or simply opt out altogether.
As my thoughts poured out, I started to feel angry again. And it took me a while to realise that I wasn't feeling angry towards anyone, but rather towards IVF itself! Lots of people have been asking me if/when we will be "doing it" again....IVF, that is! And as I reply with my vague, learnt-off answer, "Oh we're not sure...hopefully within the next year or so", I can't help but feel like I'm putting on a phoney air of ambivalence to cover up an underlying seething resentment towards this God-like 'power-to-be' that is paradoxically our hell and our salvation.
IVF brought us our little girl.... But I hated it. I think people expect us to eulogise about the wonders of modern infertility medicine. But unless they've been there, they've no real idea of the anguish you have to endure as penance for that long-wished-for dream at the end of the road. Yes, it's worth it...of course! Ask any woman who yearns for a child, for she would gladly walk barefoot over hot burning coals to be blessed with the gift of motherhood. But isn't it enough that we've endured the pain than we should have to be thankful for it as well? Shouldn't we be allowed to love and cherish our long-wished-for dream and still deeply loathe the very thing that facilitated her creation?
It's a strange and difficult place to be right now - on the cusp of another venture into that dark underworld. On the one hand, I do feel tremendous love for the workforce...for the amazing doctors, nurses and embryologists who helped us with their expertise and (in a lot of cases) compassionate understanding of the stress we were under. But on the other hand, I hate feeling indebted to them and to everything of which that 'world' comprises. It's this feeling that I should owe gratitude towards something which tore me apart, mind, body and soul, that further compounds my sense of failure and humiliation.
So, in response to the question...."Yes, we will do it again". But I do not know exactly when. And it is finances and a want for quality of life with our little girl that will dictate the amount of times we subject ourselves again to the distress of treatment. When we return to the clinic with arms outstretched imploringly we are certainly not returning into the arms of an old friend. We will go back submissively out of love for our child and for us, as a family....But not without fear, trepidation and regret in our hearts that there is no other way.