It was July 2003. My first IVF cycle had been cancelled when I produced only one egg. A 3% chance of a take home baby, my fertility specialist said. Try again, he said, this might have just been a one-off bad result. So we booked a holiday for August, to help pass the compulsory six week gap before we could try again in September.
I emailed my sister-in-law, to chat, and to tell her about the holiday to Vanuatu. She knew about my ectopic pregnancy seven months earlier, but didn’t know about IVF. We weren't telling any family members. And she wasn't the most sensitive of people. I had earlier emailed friends in the UK, internet friends, who knew all about the details of my efforts to conceive. I told them about our holiday. I said, “so hopefully we will be all relaxed and ready to try IVF again.”
I forgot to proof-read the message to my sister-in-law, as I copied and pasted. I left the bit about IVF in. She responded. “Are you trying IVF?” she wrote, her excitement oozing out of every word. She continued. I can’t remember her exact words, but she implied that IVF was the answer, that it would work. But I was wounded already. I knew it didn’t work for everyone. I knew that it hadn’t worked for me once already – in fact, I hadn’t even had the chance of getting to any In Vitro Fertilisation. No eggs meant nothing to fertilise. So I fudged my response. “Oh no,” I said, a wee white lie not bothering my conscience at all. “I made a copy/paste mistake with a friend who’s doing it. Besides,” I said, this time being truthful. “It isn’t right for everyone.”
I didn’t want to say we’d tried and the odds of it working again weren’t good. I didn’t want to say I was too old, that I should have tried earlier. I didn’t want the judgement, the sympathy, the feelings of inferiority. I didn’t want to deal with someone else’s emotions, someone who was so casual about getting pregnant that she’d said to me a month earlier that being pregnant whilst visiting us was the worst possible holiday (I pointed out that it wasn’t), and who then said, “I don’t care if I miscarry this baby, I can get pregnant again.” And so I never mentioned IVF again. To give her credit, neither has she.