Nothing could have prepared me for the sense of loss I felt following IVF. I did all the self-preservation I possibly could have done, but when the day came that we found out it had not worked, my world fell apart.
Our first round of IVF gave us three good quality embryos. We decided to have two embryos transferred and have one frozen. I was immediately attached to them, they were the closest I had ever felt to feeling pregnant. The agonising two-week-wait was upon us, after weeks of a mammoth journey. Constant hurdles, examinations, tests, injections, hormone therapy, scans and eagerly awaited phone calls from the specialist nurses.
Our embryos gave us hope, they gave us a vision of what may be. I spoke to them every day within that two week period, I hoped with every part of my being that they would hold on in there and stay with me. We had been through so much to make them, and we already felt like a perfect team.
At the end of the very long two-week-wait I felt like I was getting all the symptoms of pregnancy, but I knew this could be due to the hormones I was taking. I remember the day that our journey came to an end; I went to the toilet and I had started to bleed. I was home alone with just my dog, as my husband was at work. I just sat there in silence for quite some time, trying to muster up the courage to call my husband and share the sad news with him. That was probably one of the saddest moments. We had agreed that if anything happened, I would just call him and ask him to come home, so he knew the news was not good. I sat in my bathroom holding on to my wonderful, loving dog and sobbed like I have never done before. My world was caving in around me.
Time passed, and the grieving process was all too consuming at times. Friends around me were having babies, some even having their second. I felt like I was looking through the window of a door to a club I wasn’t a part of ,and everyone on the other side had all of the happiness that I dreamed of having.
Eventually, over a year later we tried a second round of IVF. Sadly, once again, we went for our pregnancy blood test and it was negative. I knew in my heart that was the last go, the last chance, as I physically and emotionally couldn’t endure it all again.
Grieving after IVF is so hard to explain. There is nothing tangible. It’s a loss of opportunity, the loss of hopes and dreams and a future you thought was so nearly within your reach. I also felt like I had failed, as a woman, a wife, a daughter, I couldn’t understand why I just couldn’t hold on to those precious embryos.
It took a long time to process my grief. I slipped into a depression and I needed to speak to someone. I went to see my GP and broke down completely. I was referred for counselling, which at the time I literally had to drag myself to; but, eventually, with time, it felt like I was closing a door, but a new one was opening. A new sense of hope was starting to shine through. One day, my counsellor asked me if I felt I could mother any child, regardless if I had given birth to them; and in an instant I said yes. Being a mother had become way more to me than a nine month pregnancy and genetics. I needed to be a mother, it was embedded in my makeup.
In May 2018, my husband and I went along to an adoption open evening. I was so nervous, but also so excited. After learning a great deal about the adoption process and listening to a couple that had adopted their son, we both felt like this was a path we were meant to take. It felt like the most natural thing in the world. Within a month we were assigned a social worker and so our adoption journey began.
On the 6th March 2019, it was our panel day. A process where a panel of individuals, all whom have a link to adoption on a personal or professional level, were to interview us. I was so incredibly nervous. I’m usually confident at public speaking, and those that know me well know I can chat a lot, but I was just so worried I wouldn’t be able to get across to them how much adoption meant to me. My husband and I entered the panel room, and around a large table eight people sat, all smiling at us. We nervously answered their questions and we spoke about our journey that had led us to that moment. Eventually the nerves faded away and we were able to talk with ease about why we were ready to be parents, and about the love we had to give; the life, the hope that we longed for as a family.
It was a unanimous decision from the panel, and we were approved as adopters. I still remember that day with so much pride and love in my heart.
Two months passed, and the eagerly awaited phone call came; one I will never, ever forget. Our social worker telling us we had been matched. My heart flipped. It was going to be a quick turn around, and our social worked asked is we could be ready quickly; without any hesitation we said yes!
With half a day’s notice to prepare and get the bare essentials ready for her arrival, friends and family rallied around us, delivering their spare items to help us. We quickly realised what an amazing, kind support network we had around us. The day was upon us; we both paced the house, having spent hours cleaning and rearranging the bedroom. Setting up a crib next to my side of the bed, ironing freshly washed baby grows and cute baby girl outfits; it hadn’t really hit me what was actually happening. I just went into immediate organisation mode. The call came from our social worker, “We’re in the car and we’re on our way”. That wait felt like the longest one by far, it felt longer than the six years of longing we had already had waiting for this very moment.
I watched out of the lounge window, feeling absolutely ready for to hold our baby girl. Then, I saw our social worker walking up the road with her in her arms. All I kept saying was “She’s so tiny”. I opened the front door and I instantly felt a love that there are simply no words to describe. I felt like her face was a one I had always known. Our social worker handed her over to me and said to her “Here is your Mummy and Daddy”. In an instant, our whole purpose in life changed. This little baby girl was giving us a life we had longed for, she was giving us everything, plus more, than we could have ever imagined. She was always meant for us, and just like that, it all made sense. We had been waiting, all that time, to be chosen for her. She may not have our biological make-up, but she was born from our hearts.