Infertility Imposter Syndrome.
I’m in an aeroplane sitting by the window as it sputters down the runway, its wheels finally lifting off the tarmac with a churn of my stomach. It chugs its way up, up, up, “I think I can, I think I can.” Only it can’t. It chokes and hurls back down to earth, my heart skipping a beat as it jolts me awake.
I’ve had this reoccurring nightmare for years. I always figured it was representative of my creative frustrations – the uphill slog of trying to make it as a creative in a city which dangles your dreams just out of reach, just beyond the crippling rent and soul-destroying side-hustle.
I never thought it would be because I couldn’t have a baby.
It’s been seven weeks since we were told we’d need to have IVF, specifically ICSI, in order to conceive. It’s been a lot to take in. I’ve swamped my brain with everything I could find on the internet, from medical studies to video diaries. I listened to thirty hours of podcasts in one week (thanks Big Fat Negative!). And eventually this invasive, unromantic, sci-fi method of conception started to feel… normal. I grew to be at peace with it. The “why us?” question started to feel like a waste of energy – self pity wasn’t going to make us fertile. This was just the way our tide was turning.
“A wave can kill you. Or you can ride it”.– Matt Haig, The Humans.
And so I’m ready to go, zipped up in my wet suit with my freshly polished surf board. Metaphorically speaking. Only before I even step foot in the ocean I’m gifted with what I suspect is one of the biggest lessons of infertility: the waiting game.
We need appointments, and referrals, and appointments for referrals. He smokes, so that adds six weeks straight away just to sign up to the ‘quit smoking’ course and get the go-ahead for fertility treatment. He does, and we do, and we’re told our referral for IVF has been made.
But in all those weeks I just sit and wait, consumed by it. I tell my family and close friends about our new venture. I’m desperate to talk about it, to hear somebody say, “Me too“. But nobody does. They smile politely and scramble for the right response, landing haphazardly on ‘excitement‘. I wince, the dart not quite hitting the board.
They think this means we’ve simply decided to have a baby. Simply. Three years of failure, miscarriage, heartbreak. IVF is never a choice. It certainly isn’t a shortcut. Their reactions come from a good place, I know, but nobody really understands and I have nothing more than theory to try and enlighten them.
There is a community that gets it; a supergroup of infertility warriors who are all living similar stories, picking each other up and providing support. And I want so much to be a part of it, to be guided through the turbulence. Instead I just watch through the window, waiting patiently to board the plane.