When I first fell pregnant I experienced some very distinctive side-effects.
There was the almost terrifying, airport sniffer dog nose that could identify different types of fuel and precisely which fabric softener you used on your clothes. It took me about a month of retching to find a washing powder and fabric softener combination that didn't set my nose and gag reflex off.
Then there was the gradual swelling of my face, wrists and ankles. A bit like a lumpy balloon. And then there was the definite need to wee all the time. All. The. Time. I clearly remember at one point thinking it would be easier to just move into the bathroom...
In the midst of my Reiki and my Reflexology and my Infertility Zen Mode I was getting more relaxing than you would find at a relaxing convention and I started to get that nose. The one that could detect perfumes at 100 paces and knew precisely how far gone that cream cheese was in the fridge.
I have not had The Nose since I was pregnant with my daughter so a tiny speck of OMG OMG inside me started to stir.
Remember when I said that the whole point of quitting is to really put the idea of falling pregnant behind you? To stop thinking about it all the time, stop jumping whenever a pregnancy symptom waved its arms about, to stop hoping, hoping, hoping.
Well, it's not that easy, especially when Dear Friend 1 has just produced the most beautiful baby girl in the world and Dear Friend 2 has announced her unexpected pregnancy. I don't have that sense of, "That is so unfair and I can't be happy for you and why, oh, why" anymore. Thank goodness that's been laid to rest in the graveyard of infertile insanity, but it does make me incredibly broody.
Let me briefly digress. Last week Dear Friend 2 called me and asked me to join her for a coffee. As she poured me a giant glass of wine (someone really needs to show her what coffee is) she told me that she wanted me to know her news before it was officially told to the world. She wanted to make sure that I was alright. This complete and utter sensitivity to my raw infertile soul nearly broke me. When I got home I wept. Not for sadness and woe at my inability to conceive, but for the fact that somehow I have managed to collect people who really care about what I am going through.
So there I was, wiping my eyes and looking startlingly like a rabid dog (my eyes, man, my red, scary eyes) and it hit me with this almost visceral whack, right in the belly. I wanted to hold my own baby again. I wanted that baby and the crying and the mess and the fuss. I wanted to be so tired I ate socks by mistake. I wanted to fall on my knees before a pregnant women and say, "Please, please give her to me. Please?"
That feeling. That intense, crazy feeling is what I had forgotten as I did the injections and treatments and fertility centres. It had been lost in the negativity of the fertility circuit that left me wrung out and depressed. Another credit card and number on their books, something to tick off and take from.
So yes, that's how Infertility Zen Mode has worked, it has reminded me of the reasons behind the stuff I went through and why it is so important.
The thing is, I have no idea what to do with this knowledge.
I know I cannot return to that clinic and those people and that IVF will probably break either me or my marriage. My husband and child are more important to me than a dream that may never come true.
So there I was, baffled and bewildered and slightly annoyed. It's all very well having an epiphany but it would be nice if there was some kind of roadmap leading me to a solution.
And then the Nose kicked in and I wondered, "Could this be it?"
Over the next few days I swelled up like an angry water balloon and developed a craving for orange juice and cream cheese. Not necessarily at the same time. Each day I woke up expecting to see Aunty Flo and each day nothing happened.
I was still not late for my period so I shoved it all to the back of my mind and I ignored the voice that said (repeatedly and with an increasingly squeaky voice), "Get a pregnancy test! Geeet a pregnanceee teeest." Yeah, that voice. I ignored it. I was going to stick to the plan no matter what, and that plan demanded that I only consider picking up a test or a tablet when my period was at least a month late.
I got crabby and wanted to poke my poor husband in the eye because he was not breathing quietly (It's not like I'm married to Darth Vader or anything) and my daughter got the Evil Eye for moaning about her homework. In short, I had every pregnancy symptom under the sun and that OMG voice stopped being a squeak and became a roar that tumbled in my ears and thoughts until I felt like I couldn't take it a moment longer.
On Sunday my period arrived.
Somehow I am alright. I am. Perhaps it is because I subconsciously knew I was not pregnant. Maybe it is because I had this brief, enraged thought, "I won't be pregnant and I will be pissed off and hurt and I don't want to feel like that. Dammit!"
So, here's to another month of Zen and calm and eating well. Here's to lazy shagging and happy families and to that distant, great hope that one day I will hold a baby in my arms again. And I promise not to stalk pregnant woman...
You can read Tamsin's previous columns about secondary infertility here.