Sorry – that might mislead you. I’m not pregnant but another woman, somewhere, is preparing to say these words.
I’ve written and drafted several articles this year based on my struggle to conceive yet this has to be the hardest one. In a way, it is the most personal. When I type the letters on my fancy iMac keyboard I am suitably disconnected from the faces of my friends. However, I know that as soon as this flurry of words gets posted on the internet, they will each connect the dots. So here, upfront, I must apologise if I make you uncomfortable. That is not my intention.
I am an open book. I have a habit of telling people my “stuff” if they are close to me and I have full trust in my friendships. Therefore, my closest girlfriends all knew that for me, 2016 was to be the “Year of the Sprog”. They all knew that after a year of hormone treatment, I had decided to take the next leap to IVF and that I would give it just one shot. They also knew that in reality, my need for a child would mean I would actually have more than one attempt (three in total). And that I would only stop because the Consultant said there was “no more hope“.
So, back to the title that inspired me here. “I don’t know how to tell you this, I’m pregnant”. During my six months of IVF, I heard this sentence five times. I know that this is not unusual as I am in my forties therefore my vast mix of friends are all in that late baby-making stage. However, what makes the sentence note-worthy is the timing and delivery of the words. Let me explain:
Friend #1: So Im cheating a little here as the first announcement was actually over instant message. I have a wonderful friend overseas. She has a lovely life – working in a job she enjoys (yes, that can happen!) and living by the beach. However, when she reached her forties she felt something was missing. Unlike me, this lady has no fear. She imagined life without children and would not accept that prognosis. So she fought against Mother Nature and started IVF to have a child. She took far more measures than I did and flew overseas for a particular clinic whereas I relied on the comfort of British Medicine. I started my first cycle in January, at the time of her third. We talked daily about the drugs, the effects, our fears. I tried not to be too influenced by her experiences but it wasn’t easy.
February arrived and my result was negative but she was lucky. It wasn’t a clear cut message to say “I’m pregnant” as she had doubts. But as the days grew and her confidence held, I knew she had succeeded where I had failed. After our daily ‘info-swap’, this was hard for me to bear. Gradually, I noticed I was contacting her less after each of my failures whilst her body started to change. By the time she gave birth, I realised I had been a coward, stepping away from what would hurt me. Conversely, she is the bravest lady I know and she will be a wonderful Mum. I hope she understands my behaviour.
Friend #2: I hadn’t been out with this particular friend for some time, so when she asked me out to dinner, I gladly accepted. I only suspected something when we walked to the restaurant, by the protective way she was placing her handbag in front of her tummy. Although I had already guessed, she didn’t realize and was obviously dreading telling me. I held it together well and when I got home, I rang my boyfriend and wailed “life is so cruel”. I’m a drama queen, so I almost enjoyed the pain but when I woke the next day, I thought “wow, she will be a brilliant Mum. How wonderful”.
Friend #3: I have two very close friends who have listened to my every word about my IVF. I feel bad for these ladies as they have had to listen to every hope, every twist and turn and sadly, every failure. They are superb and they kept me going. I love them both. After my last attempt failed, I was due to go on a girls weekend with the two friends in question. The morning of the trip, one of them asked me to go for coffee. Nothing strange there. However I noticed her walking a little slower and her speech was a little stilted. As we sat to sip our drinks, she uttered the words “I don’t know how to tell you this, I’m pregnant”. I could read from her eyes that this beautiful, strong, ridiculously kind woman was obviously nervous to tell me her wonderful news. In that moment, I experienced a terrible mix of emotions. Of course I felt sad as I had recently lost my chance to be in her shoes. I also had a second of jealousy and I don’t feel good about that admission. But I knew immediately what a fantastic Mum she will be and how amazing her children will become. I gave her a hug, said “Congratulations” and told her I was fine.
That moment should not have been about me.
Her announcement shouldn’t have been marred by my own personal sadness. Her news was wonderful. In its own right.
That weekend, we went away with our friend and laughed, ate loads and I drank champagne. I shared a room with my newly pregnant friend who was forced to listen to my drunk snoring whilst she remained “pregnantly-sober”. Sometimes being infertile has its benefits!
Friends #4 and #5: I don’t need to dwell on the last two stories because, by this stage, I was starting to feel less like a thin sheet of glass; much sturdier and able to face the news.
I need to admit here that each time I hear those words, I feel a pang for what could have been. I always will. However, once the dust settles, and the news has been digested, I will always genuinely feel joy. So with all this in mind you’re probably wondering, how do you tell someone you’re pregnant when they cant conceive? My wise advice? Just tell them.
My Consultant said it best when he explained that, even with my high egg reserves, and my good response to IVF, I still only had less than a 3% chance of conception. Even ladies without my problems have low odds at the outset. Getting pregnant truly is a miracle. So, I hope if the ladies mentioned here recognise themselves, they will understand my final thoughts:
- I am sad that I cannot have children naturally.
- Armed with the knowledge that getting pregnant is SUCH a tricky task (nigh on impossible), and because you are my friends and I love you, I am ecstatic you beat Mother Nature and challenged those odds.
These two sentences co-exist, but they are not linked.