Caroline Corcoran might finally be out the other side now with a perfect baby boy, but the things she learned during her long battle to get pregnant will stay with her forever...
I got pregnant through IVF after three failed rounds of IUI, an operation and a big chunk of time when I basically became a sad hermit in leggings. I was bloody lucky because the end result was a healthy little boy/me leaving the house and removing the leggings but the experience won’t ever leave me. Here’s what stayed around...
1. Awareness of how it feels to be excluded
In reality, I may be sitting in a coffee shop with other mums taking my son out of his pram to deal with a nappy explosion and downing a lukewarm tea in three seconds. In my head though, I am the woman on the next table, wanting a baby and thinking the smug crowd with the prams moaning about colic despite being the luckiest people in the world are the worst. And I’m glad. Being a little bit mindful of other people when you’re in the new baby bubble is really not a bad thing.
2. Fertility radar
Seriously, I’m like a detective. If you spent half an hour in a room with me, I could probably estimate the number of rounds of Clomid you took and how many embryos you have in the freezer. I won’t though, don’t worry.
I may guess if people are having trouble conceiving but I know how sensitive the subject is and I would never, ever wade in and start asking questions, signing you up for mindfulness courses or proffering advice on your gin habit. If you want me though, I am very much here.
Never one for science, I have now found an area I am fascinated by and I know my stuff when it comes to fertility. Unfortunately, it’s not something you get a niche East London pub quiz specialising in and friends going through it generally prefer to get their advice from actually qualified doctors so this area of expertise is not all that useful in life.
5. A disturbing forever-association with your phone alarm
When you’re taking multiple different drugs, in multiple different forms, at multiple times of the day through fertility treatment, an alarm system is a must. Only thing is… the alarm going off on my phone going off will now always make me think I need to dive up and inject my stomach and/ or insert a suppository. Which is a little stressful.
6. Needle badassness
Old me: built up the drama over having a tiny blood test for weeks, cried on the way home, believed one blood test equalled four bars of Dairy Milk because POOR ME. New me: chilled as the midwife took blood while I was pregnant because IVF needles officially got me over my needle fear and have now signed up to give blood. Badass.
7. Ridiculous hormones/emotions
“He’s like A MIRACLE,” I sob to my partner on a fairly regular basis (he’s now eight months) (my baby, not my partner). Now I have no point of comparison so I don’t know how hormonal and cry-y I would have been if my son had come along naturally after a couple of drunk nights of trying on a beach holiday but I do know that I can barely get through the day without weeping at a plot about infertility on TV or having a small, happy tear at the sight of one of my son’s tiny, tiny socks. I know.
8. Extreme gratitude
Not that 3am wake-ups aren’t hard, or mastitis is a laugh, or I don’t think a spa day that mainly consisted of someone gently rubbing my feet while I drifted in and out of sleep would be sweet, sweet joy. But when you’ve been through years of thinking you might not ever get a baby, and then one appears, you will always know that you are ridiculously, insanely lucky. And that there are other people who aren’t so lucky which makes you bloody grateful.
9. Extreme gratitude part 2
When I was struggling to conceive, I was quite rubbish with friends’ children. I was just too sad to be heavily involved and I wanted to surround myself with a world that didn’t shine a light on what I didn’t have (sofa, Netflix, burritos etc). But the friends who’ve since told me that they got that without it having to be spelled out at the time and who are still around - with the added bonus that we have the baby thing in common but the lovely knowledge that we would be friends with or without that - are now extra special to me.