I had always assumed I would have children. I always knew I would have a daughter. Even at 39, knowing my husband's previous cancer would mean we needed IVF ICSI, I believed it was just a hurdle en route to parenthood. So when our first cycle worked we were over the moon, but not entirely surprised.
What we weren't prepared for was the devastating result of our 12 week scan, confirmed by more tests. I can't dwell on that here save to say the excitement of imminent motherhood quickly turned into one of the loneliest and most terrifying times of my life. I carried my son for 16 weeks before finally holding his still body. The paperwork referred to me as his mother. This was not how I was expecting it to be. Was I even allowed to call myself a mother? For another three months I couldn't bear to talk out loud to anyone other than my husband and my mum.
That first cycle had left us with 8 embryos in the freezer and so, despite the fear of it happening again, we embarked on another cycle.
My body was drugged up in readiness for pregnancy and all 8 embryos were thawed. Not one survived.
Straight into a fresh cycle of IVF and I became pregnant. Third time lucky, it must be. That belief was short lived as scan after scan showed the decline of my new hope, and I miscarried.
So we tried again and achieved another positive pregnancy test. This time the scan was more promising and at 7 and 8 weeks we saw a heartbeat, albeit small for the dates. I was self-employed so I wound down my business knowing that I couldn't focus on both that and my child. At 10 weeks a scan showed her heart had stopped beating leaving just an empty sac. I know it was a girl as I opted for an ERPC (surgical procedure rather coldly called "evacuation of the products of conception") that gave us the chance to have tests done. They showed no abnormality.
Treating everything so far as bad luck, we tried again. This time taking Prednisolone and Clexane just in case they could treat the cause of miscarriage. I had five more cycles of IVF, three more pregnancies, one more ERPC and two natural miscarriages (one while in the waiting room for a follow up consultant appointment).The consultant clearly believed I was deluding myself. I think my husband agreed with him. I was now 42 after all. But I believed I was going to be a mother, that I was going to make my own mother a grandmother and I couldn't give up.
People around me were forming their own opinions rather than talking to me. Some assumed I had given my career priority over having a family. Others that knew something of our attempts felt awkward talking about their own children. All I could see at the supermarket was pushchairs.
I even stopped telling my mum about each attempt as her tears were too much to bear.
Sometimes I thought that perhaps I was being greedy wanting a child when I was already lucky to have a marriage, nice home and two dogs. Then I felt angry that I should think that way about something that came so naturally to most couples.
On the way home from one of my IVF appointments I made a spur of the moment decision to see a clairvoyant. Was I deluding myself, should I give up? The doctors couldn't give me any rational explanation so why not appeal to more mysterious forces? She told me she didn't know whether I would do any more IVF but one thing was for sure, I was going to have a child. She could see a little girl waiting to join me. I felt the tears well up as in my heart I knew she had seen my future child.
I think I researched every internet page that contained any information on recurrent miscarriage. Eventually I found a private clinic that offered tests not available on the NHS. I persuaded my husband to let me try. He wasn't convinced until the test results presented us with two possible causes for our miscarriages. One of which they had treatment for and the other giving us a 50/50 chance.
At last, real hope. A tangible problem to address. Tempted as I was, I decided not to tell my mum about our new found answers until I was able to surprise her with the results of a clear 12 week scan. We pulled together the funding for one last cycle. That next cycle was booked, the countless drugs ordered including special infusions that I would have to have before and during pregnancy. Then we booked one last grown up holiday.
One night, before we were due to go on that holiday my dad called me with the shocking news that my mum was dead. In an instant my world turned upside down.
Suddenly there seemed little point in any of it. She was too young. She wasn't even a grandmother. Why? Why couldn't I have got the tests done sooner? I would never now share the experience of motherhood with my own mother. My family was getting smaller, not bigger.
It was decided that we should still go ahead with the new cycle as planned. Again I became pregnant. And again I miscarried. Numb from the loss of my mum, I barely felt that further loss. It came as no surprise.
As we had cancelled our holiday, we found ourselves with funding for one more cycle. I was nearly 43 and we managed just two embryos, one of which passed away before we even got to the clinic, leaving just one four cell embryo to transfer.
Fast forward 6 years and my business is doing well but I am now divorced and have also lost my father. That one little embryo? Well she's chasing the dog round and round the garden. Yes, of course, a girl. A bright, funny, feisty, beautiful little girl.
PS My daughter tells me that rain is her favourite weather - because that's when you get rainbows. Little does she know she is my rainbow.
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