I often read “it was such a shock and surprise when we found out we were pregnant”, which is fair to say, it’s such an amazing and life changing moment, so of course it was, you can never be fully prepared for that moment. I’d say however, the initial shock and surprise when one finds out they’re having a baby was, I feel, slightly different to some for me and my fiancé Rebecca. You see, we went through an incredibly tough 2 years or so of IVF, so were somewhat expectant each time we tested, placing all hope on that little white stick! “Surely it’s worked? Everything was where it needed to be”! Shock and surprise for us was perhaps more jubilation and relief, at the sight of those two pink lines, followed by “s#@t! This is happening now then”.
It wasn’t quite as straightforward as a couple of paragraphs however. Those that have been through IVF will no doubt be able to tell you there are many ups and downs.
Our first transfer day saw us lose a number of our frozen embryos during the thawing process, with no real explanation. These were very good grade embryos by all accounts so what was happening?! One finally survived the thaw and we were able to proceed with a transfer, although both now rather shaken and saddened by the first hour or so of the day.
Rightly or wrongly, over the next few days we developed something of a relationship with this little embryo of ours but any confidence we had quickly started to dissipate, purely a gut feeling. Perhaps down to how that transfer day had started for us? Finally testing after a few days, placing all of our chips on pink, we were met with nothing but sadness and disappointment, confirmation it hadn’t worked. Back to the drawing board and for round two!
The second time around things went much more smoothly and we were both far more relaxed and stress free throughout the whole process, most importantly Rebecca was. So, transfer day goes well, we wait as instructed and when we finally test . . . pink comes in, success! As a result I guess the biggest piece of advice I could impart, although easier said than done, would be to remain as calm and positive as possible throughout the process. There is no doubt that stress has a negative impact on the body.
Looking back at that time now I was probably a little more scared than I let on but as well as having to be strong and positive for Rebecca, embracing the “traditional” male role as best I could, I didn’t really have time to feel that scared. Amongst the multiple appointments and tests were a number of reminders set for injections and other meds at a variety of times throughout the day and night, I became quite the assistant nurse.
A crazy time. A stressful time. Perhaps not what two 27 year olds seemingly with the world at their feet should have to experience? We should have been care free, with limited responsibilities and living our best life! We certainly weren’t talking about having children just yet, not until we learnt of our situation and its apparent time constraints. But we have experienced it. We embraced it as best we could, rolled up our sleeves and got on with it, because there’s no other way. We certainly had a great support network of friends and family around us, although tough at times to be completely open.
It’s all a distant, blurred memory now, one I wouldn’t change for the world however, as the result has been truly grounding, rewarding and life changing, for the better. I’m a father, padre, papa, dad, responsible for this little life. I cannot wait to experience all it has to throw at me!
And so to Ella.
Now already 8 months old, made up mostly of mousey brown hair, deep blue eyes, chubby cheeks, podgy limbs and just two teeth, Ella’s changing and developing on what seems like a daily basis.
Ella has taught me so much already, about a different kind of love, what immense pride feels like and what it means to be truly tired, so exhausted I often forget my own name.
Incredibly cheeky and entertaining, just like her mother, I couldn’t ask for more. Although, I am slightly concerned Ella is turning into some sort of Dinosaur, especially now she has two shiny new fangs. Ella eats everything in sight, chews on anything she can get her hands on, including the cat! And has developed quite a repertoire of roars and screams!
Now frequently unable to think straight, I certainly couldn’t manage without my remarkable wife-to-be, Rebecca. Quite how she manages to run the house, general life admin, plan our wedding and raise our baby Dinosaur is truly astounding. Keeping my eyes open long enough to make it through the working day is tough enough!
I hope to write a little more about my/our journey along the road that is IVF. We will have to travel it again, for baby number 2 and anymore after that. I also hope my musings may go some way to helping other dads and dads to be whom are experiencing IVF to talk more openly about their experiences, find some solace and useful advice within, maybe even a giggle.
It can be a very tough time indeed, putting great stress on relationships as well as your state of mind and as we are all too well aware, us men don’t talk openly enough.
Signing off for now, Tom (DadItMyWay).