From quite a young age I’ve had a habit of imaging an alternative life, making things I really wanted to have happen, happen. If I was having trouble getting to sleep, or we were on long road trips etc, I played out scenes in my head – these scenes always felt pretty real. When you’re going through something as future based as IVF, you end up living in this world too – you need to keep imagining why it is you’re going through what you’re going through and your life’s on hold waiting for that life you’ve imagined, so if you’ve got a good imagination, it can feel like this imaginary world in your head is real.
The day before our last transfer, a good friend told me she was pregnant. That came with the usual avalanche of feels, happy for her, sad for me etc but I managed to not cry til I got home! But then we had transfer, and while waiting for pregnancy test day I imagined telling her I was pregnant too – she’d made a comment about none of her friends having babies at the moment (all our mutual friends had kids already), so I was looking forward to letting her know she had someone to be pregnant with. And then we got a BFP.
Finding out you’re pregnant, after so many negatives and losses, is as terrifying as it is amazing. Every bodily sensation is analysed in great detail, thousands of times over. And underlying all this, is a high level of anxiety. As part of my way of coping, I wanted to try and enjoy my pregnancy for as long as it lasted. Yes, this sounds a bit pessimistic, but when you’ve had your innocence and naivety about pregnancy stolen by loss, you’re all too aware that there’s a lot of things to get through before you’ll hold that baby in your arms. So this time we let ourselves dream, we tried to hold on to the excitement and hope when ever we could grasp it in amongst the anxiety. I let myself imagine being pregnant with my friend, I saw us going shopping together to get things for our babies, sharing, comparing & supporting each other through our pregnancy. I imagined us spending time together once the babies were born, going for walks, having coffee, messaging in the middle of the night when we were both up feeding. I imagined our babies growing up together, playing at the playground together, maybe even having family holidays together. Imagined our babies being friends like we were. All this, a whole other, future life – in my head. I hadn’t even told her we were pregnant yet.
Our scan date was booked, where we’d see our babies heartbeat and then we’d ‘graduate’ from the clinic, let out into the world to choose a midwife or obstetrician and be pregnant rather than having fertility treatment. I made a coffee date with my friend, for the day after the scan. I was planning on telling her then. Our blood tests results were still doing well, so I dared to dream we’d make it to the scan all ok, and then I’d see my friend the next day and tell her, and share with her all these dreams I’d had. We’d hug and talk and plan for our babies future. My imagined world was close to becoming my real world.
And then we went to the scan, and my world, imagined & real, fell apart. There was no heartbeat, there was no baby. We had a blighted ovum. I cancelled that coffee date. I needed to stay in my survival bubble with my husband.
We haven’t seen each other much since then. I’ve had to protect myself a bit. Because, not through any fault of her own, she’s a reminder – a reminder of how pregnant I should have been. I miss our friendship, but it will never be the same again, not that its over, it’s just different. There will always be a reminder of what might have been.
Today we had a bit of a chat via text messages. It was the first since her baby had been born. Her baby was barely even mentioned, but just the contact with her gave me flashbacks. Scenes from my imagined world, flashed into my brain, each one followed by the painful memory that that will never be. In the moments between messages I’d imagine her at home with this baby I’ve never met, but who was going to part of my babies world, doing her thing, learning to be a mum, and I’d remember I should have been not far off having that myself.
That imaginary world was all well and good for helping manage my anxiety when I was pregnant, but it was so real and I miss it so.