It was a phone call out of the blue, from her fertility clinic. Chioma was asked to come in to see her doctor, preferably with her husband, the next day, not the day of her scheduled appointment. Nothing unusual there, but the request that she should come with her husband, who hardly ever had time to attend appointments, made her imagine the worst – fertilization had not taken place. That was the worst that could happen, right? She consoled herself, and called her husband to know if he could rearrange his schedule, so he could come with her the next day.
He had some time to spare, so a depressed Chioma waited for the dawn of the next morning, to hear what the doctor had to say about why their latest IVF cycle failed. She just knew. They needn’t tell her. All she wanted to know was why it failed.
Just as she had suspected, the cycle had failed indeed. From the second day after the fertilization, it was pretty clear the embies were not growing as expected, and a day 3 transfer as planned was not going to be possible. The doctor wanted more time to watch the embies, to see if there would be any changes, so the transfer was moved to day 5. A thoroughly depressed Chioma and her husband went home to pray about their embies. Perhaps a miracle might happen and they would start growing normally.
When day 5 rolled by, the embies had stopped growing. They were still the way they were at day 2. It was a major disappointment. She had hoped against hope that the increased days would have given them more time to grow, but unfortunately, it was not like that. She had been ready to deal with her disappointment at that moment, but when the days had been extended, she had started to hope again. Unfortunately, her hope was dashed yet again, and she sunk into an abyss of sadness, so deep no one could reach her.
She was on the verge of running mad, her very existence ceased to matter. All that mattered was the baby that did not come that cycle, or the previous cycles before then. Her words might be a better way to tell her story:
When I got that call from the hospital, I just had the feeling that if they were calling me before I was due to go to the hospital, then it was not going to be good news. I just felt it in my bones, and I was right. When you have been TTC for long, you get a feeling for those things; what will work and what won’t. What treatment will make you go gaga, just by looking at the bottles, and the ones that your body would tolerate. You just know.
I have tried all sorts, since I started trying to conceive, some five years ago. My diagnosis is that of unexplained infertility; all my blood work came back as perfect as it could possibly be; there is no known reason, why I shouldn’t have a baby, but take a look at me…my arms are still empty.
I have come to a place where I see my infertility as an enemy, and unfortunately, this enemy resides in my own body; my body has become my enemy. My body has refused to listen to the yearnings of my heart and grant me a baby. I cannot make peace with it, it has destroyed my life, it has made me lose focus of other important things in life.
I had looked back at my life, my 35 years of existence, in search of answers to what ails me. I never drink more than a glass of wine. I never smoked, I never did drugs, I never indulged in any of the sexual promiscuity my course mates in the university got up to, and what do I have to show for it? No baby. All those babes that I used to see as bad chicks back then, are all married now, with some carrying their third pregnancy! Yet, I, Chioma, the goody two shoes girl, holier than the holiest, is yet to hold her own first child. You can bet there is war going on between me and infertility right now.
I looked at how I kept myself, waiting only for a man of worthy character, never depending on any man for anything! I worked myself hard, running my passion at the same time I was working to earn my daily bread. I work hard, I’m a hard worker, I’m not afraid to work! Moms are supposed to be great at multi tasking, right? Well, I’m great at it, yet I don’t have a child to call me mom. This enemy of mine has made me turn “My Tom” app on my phone into a virtual baby. I speak to it and then it echoes my voice in that childish tone that brings a smile to my face. If only I had a real child!
Trying to have a baby has consumed years of my life. I have spent the past years of my life on hormonal injections and pills with terrible side effects, living this half-life of trying to get pregnant. I have tried IUIs and IVFs and donor eggs, not to mention meditation and visualization, I have visited several churches and places I’m less than proud of! I have overhauled my diet to suit my new mom-to-be goals. I have tried watching Basket Mouth comedy videos in the procedure room, having read a study out of Israel that said laughter could aid implantation. Well, it hasn’t…at least in my case.
It’s all so exhausting. I’m so exhausted. I want to move on. I want to have a baby. I want to stop virtually cradling My Tom and singing to him. He is not impressed.
The enemy – infertility had spread its tentacles in my life so far, that I feel irrevocably changed by the experience…so much so that having a baby now almost feels beside the point. I don’t know the person I have become, and I doubt if a baby will help me find myself. How will my husband and I ever be OK with the hows and whys and buts of it all? Even if we are able to deal with it, what about the rest of our family, who are already yapping at my ankles?
My heart feels smashed inside my chest. Could a baby really put it back together again? Could he or she really make everything that’s happened all right? I worry that is a lot of pressure to put on a sweet, helpless little infant. And worse, what if there isn’t one to ever come? What then?
Chioma hasn’t given up the fight yet against infertility, as she prepares for another IVF cycle. Her morale is higher right now, and she is doing everything by the book, but will it result in a BFP? Well, that’s my prayer for her.
As for whether a baby could fix her shattered heart, moms in the house know too well, the arrival of a baby more than fixes shattered hearts. It mends and leaves no traces of the shattered parts.
Baby dust to Chioma, and other women on the fertility journey!
Remember, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
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