We would like you all to know that we are expecting a child on the X of XX.

I'd also like you to know it's been hard. For a start, we've spent years living in uncertainty, and then there was the IVF and the complications of IVF and the being bedridden in hospital for ten days on morphine unable to even pee for myself, month off work and stop me now before I bore you blah blah blah blah blah.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I've noticed it's customary, when couples announce their pregnancy, for people to say, "Congratulations!" as in "Aren't you lucky!" And we are lucky, truly. There are many infertile couples who are worse off than us, and many things unrelated to our infertility that we have to be thankful for.

But, you see, we're not just lucky. We're People Who Have Lived Through And Worked To Resolve Their Infertility. And frankly, that makes us pretty damned fucking good.

So a mere "congratulations" isn't going to cut it here. I want nothing less than, "Congratulations, you guys are freaking awesome and you rock."

Bea and Mr Bea at some point in the future

So this is what it feels like to die.

It's not really painful, or at least not all the time. It's hard to maintain the panic. It tends to bubble in the background, a constant stream of stress. Stress. Sssstressss.... I'd only realise its presence by its absence.

Mainly, it's slow.

It's slow, and it's tedious. And it's pointless. And it's inexorable. And it's inevitable.


Waiting to die.

All my life I've been free to move through space. Which has been great. But I've been locked in time. I can only go one way, and only so fast. Oh sure, sometimes things seem to move more quickly or slowly, and overall I think I might be speeding up, but it's pretty much a steady march from day to day.

So last night I got to swap. One of my current dimensions for time. I chose width.

I was going to choose height, but when I thought about getting steadily higher and higher or, worse, lower as... height went on, it freaked me out a bit. Width I thought I could handle. I've never been weight-conscious anyway.

Of course, the first thing I did was go to ET. It was a longer walk than I'd originally planned, but at least I could get there and back. And I can't tell you how great it was to finally get there. The only problem was this: my body couldn't go with me. Durrned thing is designed all wrong. Bit useless, then, really.

So in the end I swapped back. It turns out it's better to stick with the way things are, tedious as that might seem.

I'm older than I've ever been and now I'm even older...

"It's normal to wake up in the middle of a panic attack because you know you'll be starting again soon." My inner psychoanalyst says so, and she's always so calm and rational and, well, right.

"Things have been peachy whilst you've been on break. Why wouldn't your subconscious be freaking out at the thought of going back there? Why wouldn't you feel like you are being sucked whole into a vortex of doom?"

This is why I keep this woman on. Vortex of doom. I hope she's going somewhere.

"But you see, you're not going back."

I'm not?

"You're going forward."

Hmm. Intriguing, if slightly too much like something trite my high school English teacher would have come out with. And to complete the impression - an assignment. I busily write down the ways we have progressed in our adventure to parenthood so far:

1. Have shaken that silly notion that sex leads to children. Took a while to kick that, too, having been fed the tripe since approximately age seven.

2. Will never have to go through any low-tech ART again. Stuff's for pansies.

3. In effect, have stopped TTC using any method other than IVF.

So you see, not so much a break as a big goodbye to a doomed project and a big hello to one that's much more likely to succeed. As a bonus, we've

4. Stimmed for the last time in a long time. Although if this results in a long, drawn-out pattern of failed FETs, chemical pregnancies or miscarriages, I'm not sure it'll be much of a consolation.

5. Sorted out any future contraceptive disputes once and for all. I was not looking forward to having that "vasectomy" discussion and now I don't have to.

6. Got a really nice dog.

I had to do this roleplay where I walked out of a room which represented our pre-IVF TTC efforts and into a new room which represents our future post-IVF TTC efforts. So instead of a whirling, screaming, sucking vortex, I now have a sunny new infertility office. With a view. Of a lake.

My inner psychoanalyst had one more task. I had to tidy up the new room. You see, when I arrived it was strewn with books. One was a story about how our BFPs all turn into blighted ovums. The next, not to be outdone, was filled with ectopic pregnancies and tubal resections until eventually there's nowhere for an embryo to implant but inside my uterus which one after another stubbornly refuses to do. There was an even more gruelling tale of ovarian cancer, picked up on our first routine scan at our first FET.

I had to burn them all. I just don't need them at the moment. Maybe in my next office, if I get one.

So here I sit. There's a phone with a direct line to my FS. There's a list on the wall of Things To Do Instead of Obsessing About TTC. And there's a cute little teleporting device which I can use to get back and forth from the real world when I need to. My inner psychoanalyst encourages me to use it frequently, and with enthusiasm.

Maybe tomorrow.

Just now I'd like to sit. Waiting for the next part.

In my current fantasy sex never leads to pregnancy. I mean, obviously that's the case for us, but I mean ever. For anyone.

I look at children and pregnant women, and wonder how many IVF cycles it took them to conceive. I wonder if they ever suffered from OHSS, and whether their employer was good to them about sick leave. I wonder how many insensitive comments they endured about when they planned to have children and hadn't they better start trying. I wonder whether their problem was endometriosis, or PCOS, or male factor, or recurrent miscarriage. Or, gosh, poor thing, perhaps all of the above? Or maybe her husband had his testicles removed due to cancer and they only have a few straws of semen left? How awful for them both. They must have been through some terrible times.

Thank goodness we're us and not them.

This is going to sound far-fetched, but it's true, I swear.

I was sitting at my computer reading about an online friend of mine getting yet another negative pregnancy test after yet another IVF cycle, when all of a sudden a figure appeared before me. He mostly looked like a man, but there were huge wings and it was kind of hard to focus on his face what with the bright light eminating from his crown. Luckily I didn't have to pick out his features to recognise him, because he has this button pinned to his robe which said, "Hi! My name's Gabriel! Ask me about our Eternal Life Offer!" I was a little stunned, so he broke the silence.

"Why do you let it happen?" he asked. And he seemed to be looking at me.

"Why don't you do something?" he continued, when instead of replying I merely sat, looking confused. "You know," he prompted, "seeing as how you're the patron saint of fertility these days?"

"I'm the...?"

"Patron Saint... Look, haven't you been receiving your supplications?"

I shook my head slowly. "How can I be a Patron Saint of Fertility?" I asked him. "First of all, I'm not fertile. Secondly, I don't believe in Saints. Very dark-ages church politics stuff if you ask me. And don't you have to be dead?"

He just looked at me sternly and handed me a USB memory stick, which I dutifully plugged into my notebook. And there they all were. I felt a wrenching in my gut as I looked at all the infertile women who had been asking me - begging me - to petition Our Father on their behalf. And all this time I'd been blissfully unaware. I felt sick. Physically ill at the sudden sensation of terrific and overwhelming remorse.

Then Gabriel put his hand on my shoulder. "Come now," he said gently. What's done is past. Let's look to the future. You can start with your friend."

And you know what? I did. And although she's sad now, I can assure her a healthy pregnancy is only just around the corner, with the most adorable child to boot.

And, one by one, I'll get around to the rest of you, too. So hang in there - I haven't forgotten you! I promise!

I'm pregnant.

I mean, not really, but play along.

At first I thought I was just late because of the stim cycle. I'd been expecting that. But then time dragged by and signs developed and... well, I did a pregnancy test and it was positive! Because I was expecting to be late, I was already six weeks before I tested, so I was able to have a six-week scan done straight away. And everything is great. Strong heartbeat, right size and location, etc etc.

I told my mother today. At first she looked confused. "I thought you were having a break until May or something," she said.

"We were," I replied pointedly. There were big grins all round. I'm so relieved I even shed a tear or two, although maybe that's just the hormones talking.

I can't believe we're finally on to the next stage! We are both very excited.

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome made me pretty ill. My recovery plan included a low-impact exercise program of some variety. Yoga? Pilates? Both seemed doomed to attract the fertile masses, and another part of my recovery plan was arranging a baby-free month. No fertility specialists. No children under twelve. No pregnant women.

So I chose Tai Chi. And of course I landed in a class with an expectant couple, the female half of which persisted in reminding us of her condition five times a class by asking the instructor if she needed to modify the next move in any way because of - well, you know - whilst rubbing her belly. And could she interrupt the class now to ask if she could be politely excused to go to the toilet and rub her belly because - you know. As if anyone a) needs permission to slip off and use the toilet; b) is going to be denied a toilet break; c) needs to be pregnant to qualify for privileges A and B; d) cares why she needs to go to the toilet. And need her belly rubbing be actually continuous? I mean, she's not even showing.

That's right, folks. Our valued classmate was a real pregna donna*.

So I tripped her on the way out**.

"Did you manage to get your knee in as she fell?" Mr Bea asked me on the way home.

"Nah, I was too slow for that. I had to wait til she hit the ground then I gave her a good kick in the gut."

Mr Bea nodded his approval. "Sounds like her baby would have been far better off if she'd just kept her mouth shut and done the moves."

"And not just the baby."

*Pregna donna n. - a pregnant woman who keeps verbally reminding you she's pregnant so you can arrange for the universe to revolve around her unecessarily.

**Please note I did not actually inflict any sort of violence on this woman, except in my little fantasy world. It is not necessary to flame me for this.

That's what Mr Bea said they were. One day at a time and all that. He didn't want to talk about our maybe January baby. About how uncomfortable it will be being maybe heavily pregnant over next summer. How we maybe will buy a children's wading pool for the back deck, or maybe get an invitation from our nice neighbour to use their full-sized, inground version.

But how much better it will be than last summer, when we found out about another failed cycle on Christmas Day. Again. When we knew, having failed, the next step would be IVF. When we were scared, and unable to take control by contacting the clinic, because the clinic was closed. When we left the family gathering early, because we were emotionally exhausted.

One day at a time. Because who knows what may be? On Christmas Day 2006 I may be that expectant mother, or I may be coming to be end of another negative cycle. Again. Only this time we will know that even IVF has failed, and how then will we try to take control?

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