We had to wait about twenty months on the IVF list. During that time I became skillful at suppressing my natural desires and hopes for children. I buried the pain deeper and deeper so that I wouldn’t have to feel it.
Our names came to the top of the NHS list for IVF in January 2006. We attended an evening with about two dozen other couples who were about to embark on this life-changing process. Adrian and I prayed hard, and our then pastor and his wife prayed with us, all through the process, which was much longer and more involved than we’d realised. Every evening at 9.45 pm I carefully injected the drugs into my abdomen. The injections – which as far as I can remember went on for about five weeks – must be done at the same time each day. Occasionally this meant leaving an event early so that I could get home and inject myself. If this doesn’t happen or a day is missed, the whole cycle fails. It is only recently that I’ve stopped having recurring nightmares about missing urgent deadlines, but in the months immediately following IVF I would wake myself up in a lather looking for the medications I thought I needed to inject myself with.
God was very gracious and generous to us. We stipulated that only two eggs should be fertilised, because we couldn’t bear the thought of any spare embryos being destroyed or frozen, and although we were warned that this greatly reduced our chances, God gave us two little ones which were transferred to me.
The Bible teaches that whenever a child is begotten (conceived), that is when you become a mother and father. When our little ones were zygots (single-cell embryos aged one day), Adrian and I knew that we were parents. Two new little souls were in the world and they were our responsibility. The most natural thing in the world was to pray for them and to commit them to their Everlasting Father who was skillfully knitting them together.
When God took Two and Three on Friday 12th May 2006, I grieved for them like I’d never grieved for anyone else. But I wouldn’t let myself consider the implications: they were our only chance to have children of our own, and the loss was so final that I buried it deep inside along with my unrealised hopes and dreams.
From that afternoon on, there was a ragged wound deep inside me that opened up and bled at the slightest provocation. For the first few years I felt like a waterspout; I couldn’t sing certain songs, wouldn’t go to church if I knew particular subjects were going to be preached upon, and subconsciously tried to keep people away from the wound by never sharing my real grief and hurt with anyone. I never even spoke about it to Adrian. Having to give up my dreams of and for my children was hard, and I found I had little patience or sympathy with parents struggling because their children weren’t following the parents’ dreams and plans for them.
I worked hard at putting on a good front that I was fine about not having children, so good in fact that in the end I deceived even myself.