Wow, it's almost a week since I last posted. I've been busy since then, and we went away for the weekend, but apart from that I've been doing a lot of processing - which will probably make this an incredibly long and boring post. If you don't have time to read it, the short version is "I saw a fertility coach for the first time and I think that was a good idea and will be helpful, so I've booked a series of sessions with her".
On Thursday I had my first session with the fertility coach. I had been fondly imagining that I had formed some sort of protective shell around my feelings about infertility - and maybe even that I had come to terms with it to the extent that I'd really be OK if it turned out that this was it and we were never going to have children.
I did realise, though, that I felt very ambivalent about this next cycle, and that I had some very confused feelings that I needed to try to sort out, which was why I went to see her in the first place.
Anyway, the whole "I'm strong and together and really OK with all this" idea very quickly fell apart. I even cried after I spoke to her on the phone to set the appointment up, and for the hour that I was with her on Thursday I cried for most of the time. This is kind of a big deal for me - I hate all that messy emotion, find crying in front of people very uncomfortable and have never understood those people who say, "Have a good cry and you'll feel better". So I was surprised that I cried in front of a complete stranger for an hour and then actually felt sort of calm and relieved while I was wandering around the shops afterwards.
But it's not all about wallowing in my misery and having a good cry. I've seen a coach before in my life - a few years ago I was very unhappy at work, and my boss actually arranged for me to see a life coach. This coach helped me to see that there were positive things I could do to improve my situation, and helped me to find the courage to stop procrastinating and change the things in my life that I wasn't happy with. Within a few months, I had started a new and much more fulfilling job, moved from a grotty South London flat to a lovely house in a beautiful area outside London, and met my future husband. (The only thing I found a bit odd was that I saw her at my new place of work about four months after our last session and said hello - and she barely even acknowledged me. I felt that if that had been me, I would at least have been interested to see that my former client had obviously followed my advice to the extent that she now had a new job, and would have wanted to spend two minutes finding out how she was getting on, out of curiosity if nothing else, rather than giving the impression (even though I know this was the case in any event) that I had only ever shown an interest in her because I was being paid to do so.)
Anyway, there were three main things that came out of Thursday's session with this new coach (apart from the whole messy but cathartic blubbing business).
The first is that I was using a lot of negative language. For instance, I said that our next cycle is likely to fail because I'm a poor responder. She said that I should try to avoid putting negative labels on myself like that, as if it's somehow my fault that I haven't responded well to the drugs in the past and as if it's a foregone conclusion that this will always be the case. She wants me to work on expressing things in a less negative way.
The second thing is that we talked about all the other stuff that's going on in my life at the moment, and how IVF #3 was squeezed into a very busy period and I did my jabs in a different place every day while I rushed from one thing to the next. She looked at me as if I was mad and said that while keeping everything ticking over might be a good thing when you're going through your first ever treatment and have plenty more chances, this next IVF is my last shot. If I'm serious about wanting to make it work, I need to give it the best possible chance, and that means prioritising it above everything else and not trying to set up a new business, dropping everything to babysit for other people every five minutes, and arranging to have a ridiculously active social life while I'm cycling. And if that means saying no to people, then I just need to learn to say no.
I talked about this with DH afterwards, and fairly tentatively said that I felt I'd been given permission to take my foot off the accelerator for a while and stop trying to keep all my balls in the air. He instantly replied that he'd been trying to get this through to me for a few weeks - and he certainly has talked about the IVF being our number one priority for the coming months, above any need for me to start earning money. Somehow, I needed to hear that from someone completely impartial before I could actually accept it.
The third thing was something that took me totally by surprise. The coach asked me what I saw as my purpose or role in life. I said that I had met DH quite late in life, and that I had often thought it was useful that I was single and childless, because I had been able to be there to help various people who needed it. This had continued since our marriage, and I sometimes felt that I wasn't meant to have children, because I was the one who was meant to be always available to be there for other people. I didn't say this, but a couple of times I've thought that it's just as well our IVF #1 and #2 didn't work, as my sister needed a lot of help around the time that Niece #4 was born this year, and not being heavily pregnant or having a new baby myself meant that I was able to give that help.
And then I started to cry really hard and said I didn't want to be that person any more, and it was my turn to have it for myself rather than always have to be just the one that's there for other people.
So this idea that I'm not meant to be a mother is one of the things that I need to confront and get past, and it kind of surprised me, because although that feeling has been lurking there in the background for a long time, I've never really thought of it in terms of something that might be giving me a mental block which could be preventing me from getting what I want. And maybe if I can accept that I have as much right to be a mother as anyone else, then my body can start to do its stuff and make itself a bit more of a hospitable environment for a baby to snuggle in next time round.
Interestingly, this weekend we stayed with one of my very dear friends, and we stayed up and talked for ages after the children and husbands were in bed (one of the advantages of visiting a fellow insomniac!). I told her all about this session, and she said that the reason she turned to me when her first baby was born was that she knew I knew what I was doing and would be able to give practical support. Then she said, "And far from thinking you're not meant to be a mother, when I look at everything you've done for various people over the years, all of that is the reason why I think you absolutely MUST be a mother, because you'll be so fabulous at it."
I'm not so sure about fabulous, but it's certainly a different way of looking at this.
Hoping is still scary, because I'm afraid that if I allow myself to hope too much, I'll just have further to fall when the (inevitable?) disappointment comes along. But if I don't have any hope, there's no point in doing any of this. I've definitely proved to myself that I still want this as much as ever, and I still feel as rotten as ever about it not happening. So I'm slowly working on building up hope again, and trying to believe that it really is my turn now. And I just really really hope that this hope isn't going to be crushed again.