It’s been a long time since that day, but my heart still gives a heartbroken lurch when I think of the doctor’s words. They were burned on my brain and I remember the whole thing by heart:
“I’m sorry, the fetus has implanted, its heart is beating, but it’s in the wrong place”.
“What do you mean, the wrong place! It’s in my uterus isn’t it!?”
“Your uterus is a bit like a three-cornered shape, and the fetus is right up in the left hand corner. I’m afraid it won’t survive. Hopefully you’ll spontaneously abort it.”
As you can imagine, ‘hope’ wasn’t the precise emotion I was feeling on hearing this news. Two weeks later, I was two weeks more pregnant. I felt good. Surely the baby had moved down to the right place? I just knew it was a beautiful, smart baby. It would know what it had to do. But the ultrasound showed otherwise.
“Your body just doesn’t want to let go of this pregnancy, does it? We’ll have to give you drugs to induce an abortion.”
I couldn’t think of anything to say to that.
We’d seen the baby’s tiny 8 week old heart beating on the ultrasound two weeks earlier. We’d gone through the amazed happiness at finally, finally, finally conceiving a baby through IVF after multiple failures. We’d laughed with joy, we’d promised not to tell anybody, but then we’d gone and told EVERYBODY. There was a mild buzzing sensation in my head. My throat had closed. We’d told everybody. That was the only thing I could think of. The shame of failure. Oh, and my baby I was about to lose. My sweet little friend, hanging out there with me for 8 weeks already.
So I had the pleasure of taking abortifacient drugs, and paying extra for them, too, on top of the thousands we had already paid for the IVF round. My whole body convulsed in pain as I vomited everything out onto the bathroom floor, crying with pain and desolation as well as just the plain old agony of having a pregnancy squeezed out. My husband tried to hold me but I couldn’t stand to be touched. Finally, I flushed away a bloody blob. I wanted to bury it, to have a ceremony of some sort. I don’t know why I just flushed it away.
At our next appointment, the nurse explained how my body had “voided the products of conception”. I couldn’t help staring at her like I hated her. I did hate her. In my heart I was saying…why don’t you just say it how it is? We killed my baby. I know I killed it, you know I killed it. Those ‘products of conception’ were our child. That day sucked. In fact, the whole few weeks hadn’t been that great.
We started trying for a baby when I was 28. I found out I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). The specialist said to me that, if we’d started trying when we were younger, I might not have had any problems. As it happens, we might still have had issues as there were problems on the other side too (another time), but by the time I was 33, there was still no baby.
Lots of my friends who are my age (34) still haven’t had children. They’re still concentrating on their careers, they’ve just bought houses so don’t have enough money for kids, they’re not ready to be parents. That’s all fine, but at the same time, the house they’re buying is a 4 bedroom house – kids are definitely in the plan, but ‘not for another few years yet’. One in particular bought the big station wagon in expectation of the kids she was going to have, later. Now they’re trying and nothing is happening. She’s 36. If her journey is anything like mine (and I’m praying that it won’t be), she might be 41 with no baby still. By then the odds are starting to weigh against her in terms of age.
No one mentions that the things that happened to me, might happen to you when you’re thinking of IVF. It makes me crazy when I hear people say “If we have problems, there is always IVF”. Yeah. There is always IVF. There are always more moments of pain you can have in life. But I wouldn’t wish my experiences on anyone. It’s such an unfashionable rant to have, but I can’t stop myself from saying to my other 33 year old friends – if you want children, start trying NOW! There will never be the perfect time to become a parent.
Blogger: Louise Dougherty