It’s been 2 weeks since I spoke to my sister, following a heated conversation in which I told her, in a moment of tears and rage (a moment that had been building for months) to stop blaming me for my inability to conceive, not only naturally, but with the help of IVF
Let me just give you some context – I am 37, married, and childless, (not by choice). I am one of 3 sisters, and an auntie 5 times over. I have a wonderful family, a close family, but eventually, their closeness, and support became all too much following a call from my embryologist to say that I had not made one single embryo.
As I hung up the phone, my sister sighed heavily before burying her head in her hands. “You cannot be serious!” She said as she lifted her head – looking at me with such disappointment and loss. “Why?! What is it you aren’t doing right?”. It’s IVF! How can you STILL not be pregnant!”.
Before I tell you about my heated response, let me tell you about the lead up to my IVF.
Me and my husband Steve had been trying to conceive for about two years. Like most couples TTC, it all started off full of excitement and excitable conversations about how life would be. We talked about the nursery we would create in the house and the names we would choose for our scrumptious little baby. We were so convinced that we would conceive that we even told our families one afternoon over lunch.
“We are trying for a baby!!” I exclaimed one Sunday afternoon. Myself and Steve had decided it would be a lovely thing to announce, as my grandmother was quite poorly and we wanted to give her some encouraging news. Everyone was round the table – my nan, my parents, Steve’s mum, my sisters, and Steve’s brother and his wife. At the time, it felt so good. I actually felt like a mother in that moment. I felt like I was “one of them” – I felt an even closer connection with my sisters and my sister in law, all of whom are mothers.
What I didn’t realise was at that moment, I had made my TTC experience 100000 more difficult for myself
From that moment on, I had an audience – a heckling audience, who, with each month (and there were many) that passed, got more and more inquisitive. They needed to know what I was doing to “move things along”. The narrative then swiftly switched to “what aren’t you doing to move things along?”. They were full of advice, and tips, and facts, and stories of friends who had also found it “tricky”.
I felt the pressure build as each month passed. My family were too soon full of pity and frustration and they didn’t try and hide it.The excitement of my forthcoming motherhood started to fade and instead, fear and panic had set in.
After months and months of trying, myself and Steve eventually went to see our GP. Tests showed that we did indeed need more than some good old fashioned loving to make a baby. So, the decision was made to go ahead with a round of IUI.
Because I had brought my family on my TTC journey from the start, (so to speak) my family wanted to know everything, at every step of the treatment.
Breaking the news that my first round of IUI hadn’t worked was heartbreaking. They were so certain it would work. Breaking the news the second round had also failed was even worse. They just couldn’t find the right words to help me feel OK. Instead, they kept trying to come up with reasons why it might not have worked…”Is it because you have been under so much stress? You know when an animal in the wild is stressed it too loses the ability to conceive? Why don’t you try and relax a bit more?” (Yes, they really did say this to me). “Do you think you did enough acupuncture?” etc etc..At that point, things really started to go downhill. I felt picked on. I felt broken. I felt scared. I felt under pressure.
My doctor decided IVF would be the next step
Again, my family, who honestly, I know only have my best interests at heart, were there every step of the way, whether I wanted them to be or not. My sisters even administered some of my shots for me near the end of the stimulation period, when the shots started to sting. They wanted me to be pregnant so damn hard!
So when I got that call, the one where I was told that yet again I had failed, they were so angry. I know that anger was because they were sad, and frustrated, and scared, but what I needed to hear after that call with the embryologist, was not how angry they were feeling, but how I was feeling.
Instead, I got blamed for failing. I had done something wrong. I hadn’t worked hard enough. I hadn’t done my best.
I could feel the blood, tears, and sheer rage rise in my body. How dare I be blamed.
Our last few words (with my eldest sister) following the call from the embryologist went something like this….
My sis: “You cannot be serious!”
Me: “I am serious. It hasn’t worked”.
My sis:”Why?! What is it you aren’t doing right? It’s IVF! How can you STILL not be pregnant!“.
Me:”Are you actually kidding me?! How can you blame me!! I did my best! I did all that I could do!”.
After a lot more shouting and crying, I walked out, and haven’t been able to pick up the phone since. I need space, both physically and mentally, to cope with the fact that I am not getting pregnant. I don’t need to be blamed. It is not my fault!!!
I know that my sister loves me. I know that she just so desperately wants me to be a mother. If i’m honest, I had asked myself over and over the question she asked me…..how can I STILL not be pregnant?
I know we will speak again, but right now I just need to not feel like I am to blame. I am due to start another round of IVF in 3 months. I am unsure yet whether or not I will share my journey. All I know, is that I did my best and will continue to do my best.
Did you tell your family that you were going through IVF?Were they supportive or did you feel as though you were under more pressure? We would love to hear from you. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.