In the last (at this stage) of my role models series, I want to honour another woman I met on-line. She was older than me, having gone through IVF in the early days of the technology, working with some of those early pioneers, including Lord Robert Winston. I always remember her talking about his compassion. In those days, women were hospitalised for the entire IVF cycle. Another woman, his patient, had miscarried after IVF, and my friend observed him sit by the bereaved woman's bedside, holding her hand for hours. How many doctors would do that now?
Anyway, by the time I knew my friend, it had been many years since the doors had closed on her journey to have children. She and her husband could not adopt, and they were living a vibrant life without children. She had nurtured children in her community, and treasured close relationships with a few. She still grieved - perhaps because she had never had an outlet for her grief at the time she went through multiple pregnancy losses and trauma - and an on-line community both helped her with this, and gave her an outlet for her nurturing instincts.
She had talked too about a tremendous feeling of relief that came over her when she knew that she had been through her final cycle, that it was all over. She said that this wave of relief reassured her that she would be okay. At the time, I was still trying to conceive, still hopeful, and somewhat sceptical frankly, that she actually had felt good at that precise moment that she knew it was all over. But then, one day, between IVF cycles, I was driving with my husband. I can't remember our conversation, but I remember for the first time contemplating that the next cycle would be our last, and that after it failed (as I assumed), we could get back to our lives. I was flooded with relief, almost euphoric with enthusiasm for the future. All the things I could do suddenly seemed so appealing! I could plan ahead beyond a week or two, do things with friends, commit to caring for my mother (instead of worrying about cycles and whether I could fly if I was pregnant, etc), travel, commit to work ... start to live again. It was overwhelming.
It didn't last, of course. She had warned me that it wouldn't, and she was right. The fear and depression returned very quickly, and grief and pain hit me hard when those doors to motherhood were finally closed a few months later. But the memory of that feeling of relief and euphoria helped me through those very hard days when I knew it was all over. And I often think of that as we drive over the same highway these days.
I am grateful to these four women in this series, for their honest lives that gave me inspiration at different times of my life, that helped me through difficult situations, and that gave me hope for the future.