Have you ever visited an infertility forum? I am not entirely sure how women coped before these reservoirs of information and kindness and encouragement. They are havens. You don't need to log in or register or even whisper a word, you can just travel the thoughts of other women who are battling through their own versions of infertility and find something to help you manage the strange isolation that comes with this process.
There are the heartbreaking stories of women who've had 12 miscarriages or paid for endless ICSI or IVF only to have each attempt fail. The ones who cannot afford to even think of IVF or adoption, or who saved up every penny for that one attempt at IVF that didn't work. I read their signatures that list each attempt, each BFN (big fat negative), each miscarriage and I am amazed at these women and how resilient they are, how strong.
Last week I had this dream where I was struggling to find clean nappies for my baby while teaching my daughter how to change them. It was one of those 3D, high-definition, super realistic dreams where I woke up wondering why the baby wasn't crying. Now, that was a wrench and a half, let me tell you.
Later that day I went to these forums. I needed to read the words of people who got this, who understood it, and it was as I sat there I made a huge decision. Momentous even. I was very disappointed that a chorus of angels didn't appear, or at least a string quartet with the soundtrack to my life. Not even Hugh Jackman came special delivery as a reward.
I was done with examinations and scans and early mornings and the two week wait. No more injections and appointments and exorbitant fees. Farewell prods and pokes and last minute shaving "down there" so I don't look like a wild yeti woman in from the slopes.
I binned the diet and the no-sugar and the caffeine-free life. I poured that disgusting Maca Powder into the bin and I ripped up the next schedule of planned blood tests and smears. Then, with utterly childish enthusiasm I picked up my child from school and marched on over to the gorgeous café round the corner.
At this decadent palace of treats you will find Guinness Cake and Chocolate Drizzle Cheesecake and Any Other Cake That Needs A Capital Letter. Sugar, sugar, sugar. I wanted to bury my face in the gourmet cupcake pile and go, "Nom, Nom, Nom!"
I ordered us gigantic slices of gooey cake and myself an enormous coffee. We sat in the cozy confines of the corner by the window, the one that has a little teddy bear tucking in to a plastic cookie, and we talked. It was the perfect afternoon.
This new plan – I call it Infertility Zen Mode – was inspired by many things.
There is that thing that people say to you while you are She Who Is Infertile. I think it is probably one of the most common statements made to me, alongside some stunning gems of idiocy, and drives me nuts. Sorry, it does.
It's the story of some relative or auntie or 710-year old mate who fell pregnant the moment they stopped trying. It's annoying because no infertile is ever ready to just go, "Ok, then, I'm going to throw in the towel and give up because that will make me pregnant in a jiffy."
Also, it is just that tiny bit possible, which is irritating.
Unlike the "adopt and then you'll fall pregnant" or the "take this cocktail it always works" or "[Insert entity you believe in] has a path for you" suggestions, the idea that giving up gets you pregnant holds a cup of merit. I think it might be because you relax and let go of the constant stress. You quote Ferris Bueller (Or is that showing my age?) and feel liberated. You eat cake and sod the hips and spend that appointment money on a pedicure and a hairdo.
However, you cannot enter into this decision lightly. You have to be sure. As I've said right from the start, when you are over 40 your hourglass is almost empty and you cannot afford to ignore the fact that you may never, ever fall pregnant without medical intervention.
I have this embarrassingly hippy and airy fairy, arty farty, kind of belief that the world/universe sends me hints. It kind of nudges me from time to time, and lately it feels like it is trying to hit me with a sledgehammer, as if it thinks I am the dumbest person its ever met.
Since I started doing the intensive infertility treatments I've had one disaster after another. Gastro at exactly the time I needed to start the next cycle of drugs, an accident that kept me in a sling and painkillers for two cycles, my husband falling ill twice on the wrong days and an overseas business trip that was, again, all about bad timing. That's just in the last six months.
So, for the moment I am dumping the drugs and just being me. I am not looking at forums and I'm holding other people's babies and I'm probably going to get a puppy. Will this make me fall pregnant? Will I make it for longer than two weeks without panicking that I am wasting time? I have no idea...
I am ignoring the ticking clock and the dying ovaries and stopping the ride. It may change, I may yet do IVF or perhaps adopt, but today I am going to take a huge chance and listen to what the world is trying to tell me and enter Infertility Zen Mode. Maybe, just maybe, this will be the answer and I can change my column title to: I'm not infertile.
But sssh, don't tell my brain or my body, the minute they catch on, the plan will be done for...
You can read Tamsin's previous columns here.