1. The Realisation
After two years of trying for a baby, a fertility expert suggested it was time for Rosalind Sack to attempt IVF. Then she did one last test…
It's rare, isn't it, that life's milestones turn out as we imagine. The first kiss, meeting 'the one', getting engaged... we daydream about how we'll feel, the intelligent and witty things we'll say. Yet the reality seldom matches the version we play out in our heads. And so it was when I discovered I was pregnant.
It was supposed to be a joyful, life-affirming moment. My fiancé Ed would smother me with kisses and we'd have a little cry before talking excitedly about whose eyes it would have and what names we’d choose. You know, like on the telly.
It was, in fact, a slightly drizzly Tuesday evening in May, at home on my own... except for our inquisitive cat, who was keen to find out why I was spending so much time in the loo instead of feeding him his tea.
I perched on the toilet seat, waiting for the all-important two pink lines to appear on the pregnancy test. Gradually, one line showed up, then a very faint one appeared alongside. Too faint to be definite.
“I think I might be pregnant, but I'm not sure,” I told Ed, when he got home from work. I only had one test left, it was getting late, so we decided to sleep on it and try again the following day, determined not to raise our hopes.
You see, it hadn't been the first test I'd taken, or the second, or indeed the third... in fact we'd been trying to get pregnant for the best part of two years. Two weeks earlier I'd been told, by the fertility specialist I'd been seeing at my local hospital, that we should consider IVF “sooner rather than later”. My age (I'm 35), my egg reserves and our history of failed attempts having led her to believe that natural conception probably wasn't going to be our lot. So, we'd spent several sleepless nights trying to get our heads around everything that IVF involved – including what we'd do if it didn't work.
Our struggles had turned the whole baby-making experience from what was supposed to be a magical, spontaneous moment into a largely timetabled, pressure-fuelled mission. Something it seems is increasingly common among 30-somethings.
Isn't it strange; we start off trying everything we can not to get pregnant then, when we finally decide we might be grown-up enough to be in charge of our very own mini-me, all our energies are ploughed into trying desperately to get pregnant before it's 'too late'. We're so used to being able to have almost anything we want in life – provided we throw enough energy or money at it – that when a baby doesn't come, despite our very best efforts, it's incredibly difficult to accept. Leaving such important things up to Mother Nature just isn't in our mentality these days.
In our pregnancy quest we'd stocked up on special vitamins, overhauled our diets and bought books about conceiving. Ed had had his little swimmers tested and I'd been tracking my cycles on an app. I'd even tried that age-old wives' tale of lifting my legs in the air to encourage his swimmers to go in the right direction! If anything will put you off a night of passion, that's it.
A close friend – who was then mum to a two-year-old following her own difficult path to pregnancy – asked if it had all resulted in the worst sex of my life yet, as it had for her? Yes, I'd replied – half laughing, half crying – feeling mightily relieved that it wasn't just us.
So the next morning, bright and early, I ripped open my last test and tried again. Ed had already left for work. This time the two bright pink lines couldn't have been clearer and I was floored by a huge sense of relief. I'd been due to go through some quite invasive fertility tests the following week and I was relieved that I wouldn't need them.
I sat on the bed and stared at the test, in a strange state of disbelief. Gradually, as it began to register, I started to smile. It felt like we'd been jolted from one extreme – thinking we may never be parents – to the other, and I was in shock that, finally, I was actually pregnant.
I texted Ed, telling him there was no mistaking the result of the test this time. “Woohoo,” flashed up his reply. “What do we do now?! Xxx”