My last cycle's results left me the most battered and bereft I have ever been. It wasn't helped by my husband leaving, on my birthday, for a 10 day press trip to a time zone that meant barely any contact the entire time he was away.
As I moved through the week I felt as if every pregnant person in the world was suddenly in my face and in my inbox.
The Royal baby news is on every page and two more people in my close circle of friends announced that they were expecting another addition to their family. Until now I've been genuinely happy for people who've told me they were pregnant. I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I have felt real delight on their behalf. This has gone.
Over the past two weeks the revelations of other people's fertility shook my world so hard I felt as if I could not breathe. I am angry. No, I am furious. How is this fair? For three years I've endured tests and diets and jabs and the pain of two miscarriages and these people simply went, "Ooh, let's try again" and fell pregnant within three months.
I then made the mistake of confiding in a friend. I'm not a total jerk, I know my reaction is incredibly unfair and, on the outside, I beamed at the pregnant couples and wished them well, but I am [insert rude word] jealous.
My friend's response was, "You should try to be happy for other people. Then you will have your turn."
Let me tell you something about what infertiles don't want to hear.
They don't want to hear that your distant cousin spent fortunes on IVF only to fall pregnant naturally after giving up.
They don't want to hear that they need to "relax" and they honestly and truly do not want you to tell them that "what is meant to be will be." My personal favourite is, "You should be grateful, you have one beautiful daughter already."
Oh, right. Sorry. I wasn't aware that I had only received a token for one child while you got two. Did I stand in the wrong queue? Wow, I am such an ungrateful witch for wanting to have more children when I have one already. I shall go and beat myself repeatedly with a whip made of failed pregnancy tests as a lesson in humility.
Let me tell you what I do know...
I know that sugar and coffee are bad for fertility. I know that stress is a total killer too. I know that I need to rest and that I must try not to hope too much or become too emotionally invested in each cycle.
Now I need someone to come along and explain to me how on this great, green, hairy Earth I am supposed to do that. Was there an instruction manual I missed? Perhaps a lecture.
All I know is that people who have their full families made and ready should restrict their sympathy to pats on the back, large hugs and free pizza. Don't expect an infertile to be grateful for your story of how someone beat the odds to have kids. We cannot afford to have that kind of hope, not when we drag ourselves through the ditches of disappointment every single month.
You see there is this line I have to walk where I keep on paying for expensive pills and injections and sessions with doctors because I am running out of time and yet there is no guarantee that all this effort will ever pay off.
Every cycle I miss is a child I didn't have. An egg gone to waste. I cannot afford to just throw in the towel for six months so I can relax, de-stress and think about my options. If I stop now it's because I have made the decision to call it quits and give up altogether. And, I'm not going to lie, that's on the cards right now.
I am mentally and physically exhausted and it is placing strain on my marriage and my relationship with my daughter. I can't help but occasionally get snippy over nothing. Or lose my temper about something that's embarrassingly stupid.
It's not fair on them and it adds to my growing sense of guilt that I'm becoming so lost in my struggle with infertility that I'm not there for my family. I don't think I'm neglecting them, but it's all about perspective isn't it? How do I find balance when I'm standing on a rusty nail in the middle of an ocean that's being attacked by an emotional typhoon?
I thought I had it (sorry) nailed, but the last two weeks have seen me collapsing over everything. I even cried when I found the milk was off in the fridge. Fortunately I was on my own. There are some moments that need to stay private, just between me and the milk.
None of this was helped by the fact that when I went to see my fertility specialist, Short and Intense, he looked at me and said, "What's your plan now? You're very old. Happy birthday by the way."
He then proceeded to tell me that he didn't think I had the focus and dedication to do IVF because I had been unable to go in early for my scans that week (I couldn't as my husband was away and I had nobody else to do the school run) and that my behaviour was poor and unacceptable because his receptionist had thought I was rude when I made the appointment.
How funny, I had no idea that crying was considered impolite. And the fact that he felt he could humiliate me as punishment made me realise what an unpleasant character he was. How can you speak to someone like that as they lie there half naked on a table next to you? When they are at their most vulnerable? How can a clinic specialising in infertility not understand women breaking down in tears or being emotional as they are pumped full of hormones?
I learned a valuable lesson that I want every infertile woman to know. Don't compromise and don't let anyone make you feel bad for being upset or angry. You are going through a hard time and you need a doctor who will treat you with understanding and respect and not see you as a way of paying for a year's membership to the local golf course.
You can read previous columns by Tamsin here.
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