I love this time of year. I’m still on a (natural) high after spending Christmas with my friends and family. My girls are happily captivated by all the new toys they have and therefore easier to manage. In fact most of us seem optimistic about the New Year to come, making resolutions of how to better ourselves or get the best out of life.
I didn’t always feel like this. 4 years ago I was undergoing the final stages of ICSI treatment. The New Year brought so much uncertainty and I felt I had little control. I’d had 2 embryos implanted in December and although a pregnancy test had given me a very faint allbeit positive result, a scan late in December hadn’t been able to detect a pregnancy.
The Sonographer had booked another scan for Janurary 2009 so Christmas 2008 was full of cautious hope tinged with uneasiness. I tried to be optimistic but I’d been in a similar position before when 2 years previous, tests had proved “I was a little bit pregnant”. I went back for several scans and it had been soul destroying when none of these scans could detect anything positive. Eventually I was treated for an ectopic pregnancy.
I kept telling myself this time it had to be different. Ok, I’d had the complication of Ovarian Hyperstilmulation but I’d been looked after by some pretty knowledgeable medical staff. We’d been through ICSI instead of IVF as it gave us a better success rate for our particular circumstances. I had total faith in the expertise of Care Fertiity but unfortunately there are no guarantees with fertility treatment.
It was a strange feeling of limbo, although I was wishing my life away so I could get the scan over and done with, I took some comfort in being pregnant until proven otherwise. I can totally understand the expression “ignorance is bliss”.
Eventually the day of my scan arrived. I’d finally know. I desperately wanted to find out but as I got into the car part of me just wanted to do a runner. The drive to the clinic was beyond tense. It didn’t help that there were single magpies everywhere that I insisted on saluting. Why couldn’t they just pair up and humour me? Isn’t it 2 for good luck?
We arrived way too early for our appointment. There’s nothing like a long stint in a waiting room to get you even more edgy and irritable. At 9am we shuffled into the examination room. There was lots of small talk, I have no idea what about but I guarantee any talking on my part was total nonsense. I got ready behind a screen, thinking how odd it was to get my kit off “in private” when they were going to see me practically starkers. They really do try to make it all as dignified as possible.
The very kind Sonographer attempted to get me into a comfortable position. I remember thinking irritably, “I don’t want to be comfortable, I just want to know’. The probe was arranged then rearranged. By this stage I was on the edge of yelling “please just tell me!” Then, there it was! One tiny heartbeat flickering across the screen, like some sort of unusually shaped but beautiful star. ICSI had worked. My dream had almost come true.
We were given a picture of our tiny, heartbeating embryo, which we couldn’t take our eyes off. Back in the waiting room while we waited to see our consultant, we celebrated with a Kit Kat. I’d always been a bit ambivalent about Kit Kats until then but even now the sight of the red wrapper makes me smile and think of success.
The consultant came to greet us. I held my hand out expecting a warm hand shake, instead he gave me a rugby hug. He genuinely looked as elated as we did. Yet when I thanked him he selflessly said “Oh you did all the hard work”. My prescription was issued for the final doses of progesterone which support the early stages of IVF pregnancies. Then it was time to say goodbye to some of the kindest and cleverest people I have ever met, who changed my life forever.
In 2009, that appointment the first week of January was such a turn around for me. I still had a long way to go but within the space of a few minutes, I’d changed from a “Fertility Patient” to “Antenatal Patient” and it felt great! The rest of the year was pretty good too, as 8 months later Izzie, my firstborn, delicious baby girl arrived.
This Christmas was the first year Izzie really “got it”. Don’t get me wrong Jemima (who arrived naturally 14 months after Izzie and is 100% organic but equally delicious) was just as happy to celebrate. I think, rather admirably though, Jemima just embraced the chance to have a good party and get lots of presents.
Izzie was totally awed by the trips to Santa and the pantomime and thrived on all the attention she got. Her favourite activity is dancing “Gangnam style” with her teenage cousins, my Dad or anyone who can take the pace, which trust me isn’t very many of us.
Seeing Izzie bound around so full of life is amazing, if a little scary. Once when her cheeks were so red I thought she may explode, I scooped her up and held her close, in a desperate attempt to calm her down. I felt her heart pounding with excitement and I was overwhelmed with a rush of love, relief and gratitude that the same heart had snapped into life this time 4 years ago.