Dear future baby,
Several times I have sat down to try and write this letter and each time I end up putting my laptop away without writing a word. I am 37 weeks pregnant and as I sit here you are wriggling and squirming inside me. The movements are comforting but also make me feel a little queasy because you are getting so big now!
I think the difficulty I have had in writing this letter comes from knowing that in order to do justice to the feelings I want to express I have to take myself out of the present and think about how far we have come to get to this point, just a few days away from meeting you. Being present in this pregnancy has taken me months to achieve. Until very recently I have spent my time completely petrified and consumed in utter terror that you, my sweet baby, could be taken away from us at any moment. That you are not real. That after all the years of heartache and pain I cannot let myself believe that you are really going to be here. A little person all of your own. My baby, sleeping on my chest. A piece of me and a piece of your dad.
You see my little one, you have been loved long before you ever existed. You were wanted and prayed for and thought about, talked about long before you were this wriggly little thing inside my tummy.
Years of trying to get to where we are now have made me fragile. For three years we tried so hard to get here but really it goes back further than that. I have always, always wanted to be a mummy. When I met your daddy a long time ago one of the things which made me fall for him is knowing from the start that he would make an amazing dad and that he wanted a family as much as I did. The year after we married, we excitedly decided to get on with getting you here! I felt like we had done everything “we should”. I had worked hard through school and university, had a strong career with a good work-life balance, married my best friend and bought our first home. When we bought our home we knew it would be a perfect home for our children. So surely my reward to all this was to have our baby?
But you didn’t come. If I am honest, in my gut, I always knew it wouldn’t be easy. One day after my third surgery, when I was at my lowest, your nanny said to me that she knew it wouldn’t be easy either. You see, although I had done everything “right” everything had been a fight for me. She said that being a mummy was another battle I would have to take on, but she knew I would get there, one way or the other. This gave me strength.
In summary, to get to this point we were actively trying for three years; I’ve undergone three surgeries; five months of treatment to shut down my hormones, and two cycles of IVF. When I see it written down like that I feel like it actually doesn’t look like lots. Maybe because I can compare it to many beautiful and courageous women still waiting for their babies who have jumped through many more hoops and been through much more with no end in sight. But the reality is that those years have taken their toll on me. They have changed me, made me sad, made me lose my confidence in who I am and taken so much joy from me.
I think one of the biggest surprises has been that even after we finally had success it hasn’t taken away the sadness and trauma infertility caused. I felt so sure that it would. So many people assured me it would. That it would get easier with time. That the memories of everything we have been through would fade. I know there is still a chance for this when you are in my arms but what this journey has done is take away the joy I see so many have throughout their pregnancies. When I first saw the two pink lines from our second IVF cycle, my first thought wasn’t about how excited I was, it was pure fear. You see we had been there once before, with our first cycle of IVF. That time the two pink lines were the most glorious things I had ever seen. I was overwhelmed by excitement and wanted to shout it from the rooftops. But it was snatched away so quickly that the second time I saw them, with you, I actually didn’t know how I could get through the next few weeks before I could see your heartbeat.
A week later I felt like the inevitable had happened, that we had lost you as I started bleeding. It was another week after that before we were able to have a scan. At 6 weeks and one day pregnant your beautiful heart was flickering away on the screen. A tiny little dot. The nurse told me that if we had been for the scan the day before we wouldn’t have seen it. It blows my mind that I got to see you the day your heart started beating. That your heart will continue to beat long after mine. You would think this would have helped me to relax and believe, but it didn’t. I spent my days looking up miscarriage rates for each day of the pregnancy. I don’t know why. I think I was looking for reassurance but it wasn’t providing any. The next few weeks of the pregnancy are now a blur of fear, sleeplessness and anxiety. I felt so alone during this time. I had built such an amazing support network of friends through infertility but now I was considered a success how could I turn to these women and ask them for support? I should just be happy and grateful, right? Grateful I was but, the all-consuming panic took away so much of the joy. Another bleed at 9 weeks reinforced this.
Finally, the 12 week scan arrived. The scan was perfect! You danced around in my tummy. You even fist-pumped while the sonographer took your picture. So now was the time to share our news with the world. We were in the safe zone. We had big plans at the weekend and couldn’t wait to surprise our friends with our news. But my joy and relief was so short-lived. The very next day I had a huge bleed. Much bigger than the two I had before. I was in the shops with a friend and felt crampy and wet. On going to the toilet there was so much blood. I tried so hard to not pass out. As I sat in A&E the nurse told me to prepare myself. All I really remember was shaking my head and silently crying because I was not strong enough to put myself through all this again; the IVF, surgeries, the waiting and mostly the fear. I have no idea how so many find the strength to endure so many more years of this than me.
After what felt like a lifetime to see a doctor they got the scanning machine out and looked and looked and but couldn’t find a cause for the bleed. You were still there, dancing about. Looking perfect. But I was broken. The next few months went by. The number of issues I have had through this pregnancy, including reduced movements, sciatica, round ligament pain, a crippling chest infection and you being breech have made this pregnancy really difficult to enjoy, but more than that it has consumed me with guilt that I haven’t enjoyed every second. This is ALL I have wanted. Not just for the last three years of infertility but forever, and I have struggled to relax through any of it. Don’t get me wrong, there have been moments of utter joy but mostly 9 months of pure anxiety.
What I have learnt in the last 9 months is that pregnancy isn’t the end of the story of infertility, it is a new, equally terrifying chapter. I really hope that those that tell me I will forget everything once you are here are right. That the rising panic I still feel every time I suspect a pregnancy announcement is coming will disappear, and instead of dread and I will feel excitement for the happy couple. That I will stop feeling like their easy success is a reflection on the trauma and loss I have faced to get to where we are now.
I just can’t wait to meet you little one. And when you are born you will know nothing of the story that got you here. You will only know the pure love and gratitude your dad and I feel to finally have our miracle baby in our arms. One day we will tell you the whole story, and hopefully it won’t feel so painful.
Will you be worth it all? Of course. You already are my sweet baby.
All my love, always,