This picture was taken almost a year ago. I’m wearing an ankle length yellow dress, hair much shorter than now with a quiet serenity on my face – belly protruding. To the untrained eye, I look five months pregnant. However, this was me on the eve of one of my five IVF egg retrievals. I remember wearing baggy clothes at work all week so no one would mistake the strategic curvature of my body for a pregnancy – that was not there.
Ten days of daily IVF injections fill your uterus with tiny follicles that eventually become viable embryos and hopefully a take-home baby. In each of the follicles, you rest your hopes and see the possibility of what could be. You give yourself permission to see a future that is different from today – happier – and quickly you rescind that permission because even the luxury of dreaming is tainted with grief and fear, love and pain.
All odd bed mates, all intertwined, one cannot exist without the other. As these follicles are pumped with hormones, they grow and soon it felt like I was walking with bricks in my ovaries. As the weight of these bricks accrues, I was numb, unable to remember what was before.
Yet, having done this five times before and walked away with nothing to show for our efforts, I am gearing up to do IVF for the sixth time. Covid-19 adds an unprecedented layer of complexity, but here we are in the middle of a pandemic trying to start a family. I was never a stubborn person, but this experience has made me obstinate; enabled me to recognize the strength of my own mind and body. It has reminded me that my husband and I make an incredible team. We are stronger due to adversity. And finally, I have also acknowledged that there is nothing I won’t try in order to reach my reproductive destiny, whatever that looks like.
My story is still being written – and the credits are long. I have family that has told me time and time again that I am loved and friends who even though unable to relate have said kind funny things. I’ve had doctors and their science without which I have limited hope, and the inspirational spaces women have created that I often sought for comfort and guidance. Every day I seek love, encouragement, courage and hormonal therapy finding beauty in peace in this process and knowing that no matter what, one day there will be a baby.