Saying goodbye to hope, the last embryo in storage

This post talks about IVF and destroying the last embryo and mental health.

I talked about our last embryo at Fertiity Fest, the first time I’d mentioned it and it was a very last minute addition, literally decided as I was rehearsing on stage, barely an hour before I did the real thing. It occurs to me this morning that I’ve been addressing this part of my journey in this sort of short, sharp, shock fashion.

I’m not sure how healthy that it but the first time I mentioned it was when I’d spent the day with Michael Hughes and his wife, my friend Lucy and Steph from World Childless Week and after the event we shared the video here which also features Lesley, Jody and Jessica. I felt better for being open and sharing that I wasn’t as near to the end of my journey as I’d said which wasn’t necessarily a secret but an issue I’d secretly wished my husband had removed for me. That the letter had arrived and he’d spirited it away. This didn’t happen because that’s not what we, as a marriage and as a team, would do. So it was that in the week of IVF is 40, I had to come to terms with asking the clinic to ‘perish’ my embryo. I spoke about it on this video here.

I signed the forms after I’d had a World Childless Week chat with Jody Day and Steph Phillips. WCW feels hopeful and I felt that I could deal with the papers but the day after, I was emotional. I was wary of anyone being nice to me or any triggers such as visiting babies. It was sods law that there was a baby around briefly and I had a reminder of how painful that situation can be - headphones on and music loud. I’m not that familiar these days with that stretch on my senses that feels like my insides are distorting with grief. In the midst of all this, I did a talk at Cambridge PechaKucka on my journey and was interviewed about why I’m creative and what is my motivation for a blog, which was piling on the pressure far more than I'd recommend anyone does.

Right now I feel like so much of my resilience has been stripped away and I have had to dig deeper for strength than usual. In recent years I’ve been the one giving advice and it feels strange to reverse those roles. Even now I’ve been terrible at asking for help even though I know I should and worried about grieving.

There’s been some very unexpected dark thoughts and being alone hasn’t been easy which feels like a huge step backwards. This month I am missing a wedding because the lovely family celebrating have children and a new born which makes me feel like an unhealthy hermit. I know it makes sense for me and I don’t want anyone avoiding me either. Watching my husband go to the reception without me will be hard, though it’s the right thing as I don’t want him to neglect his friends because of something he has learned to live with better than I have. I’m debating what to with my evening in and how best to cope so I’m not reminded of when we last had a loss and I was scared to be alone. As it is, I’ll have Molly beside me, probably snuggled on the sofa as a reminder of how life changes and takes an unexpected turn but it’s unfair to put all my solutions in my dog and be fearful of loneliness but the vision I had of a busy home with children coming and going feels like a very distant, bleak vision that’s lost.

Walk In Our Shoes letter.png

I will probably return to this subject again, it’s a part of the IVF journey that I wasn’t expecting to hurt as much but it has and I don’t feel we talk about that much. When I looked online I found very few answers to this prolonged goodbye. I know from friends and my own advice, that small steps are good. So yesterday I walked to the post box with Molly, and sent the letter. At the time of writing this, our post collection is due and so the letter is sent. Even then I still have the ability to reverse that letter by calling the clinic. Somewhere in all this I’m hoping that fate might intervene and the clinic might ring and say ‘are you sure?’.