It’s hard to believe looking back at how much I’ve learnt from our IVF journey. When we first started Papier hq, kids were not something we really thought about as all of our energy was going into building Papier. Three years ago I was surprised to learn that I wasn't going to be able to have kids 'naturally.'
Like most people, I had always thought that when we were ready to start our family, we would just...start our family. Five rounds of OI (monitored ovulation induction cycle) and two rounds of IVF later we have our beautiful little Margot. It was exhausting, emotionally draining and expensive but I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.
I'm going to get real with you guys, I'm writing this one handed, rocking Margot with the other hand, still wearing my milk covered pyjamas at 3 o'clock in the afternoon with one of the team on speaker phone so we can talk through our new wedding stationery range. Life has changed so much from 8 weeks ago and it's crazy chaotic but I wouldn't change a thing.
What I've come to appreciate from the past few years is that nothing is guaranteed. Sometimes life can be a little uncertain. Sometimes it feels like it's nothing but uncertain. Going through IVF during the pandemic really tested us - trying to navigate our business through numerous lockdowns whilst going through IVF treatment where some weeks we were allowed a support person and some weeks we weren't...it was a trying time for Jarrod and me. Many Saturdays were spent lining up in the rain and freezing cold to have blood taken. I should have bought shares in First Response for the number of pregnancy tests we went through!
IVF starts out as a huge unknown for couples. I'm reluctant to offer advise, as everyone finds themselves in a subtly different situation. However I wasn't ready for a few things and I think these are worth knowing in advance.
IVF is an emotional rollercoaster where your control is completely taken away from you. I had the pressure of feeling like time was marching on and I was making no progress which adds even more stress.
While IVF has become more common, most couples conceive naturally and so most couples don't really know what is involved in IVF or how hard it is emotionally and financially. I would suggest that couples going through the process should try to build a support network up around them, especially if they know someone who has been through it before. Reaching out to people who went through a similar experience made me feel less alone and less like I was failing. I found when people talked about their journey it really helped. I hope by writing about my experience it will help someone else going through the same thing.
Some extras...I will never ask someone when they will be having kids - because they might be trying, or they might already be going through IVF. I will never tell someone to "relax and it will happen." I will always be considerate with things I post on social media because you never know who is going through something. If you know someone going through IVF, or you are yourself and need to coach your friends and family - "hey how did your transfer go?" is not the question to ask. Stay general, "how are you feeling" or "how are you?" is more than enough of an open door - sometimes you want to talk about it and sometimes you really, really don't.
The day I found out I was pregnant was the day I was going in to get my bloods done. I decided to do a test so that I could receive the bad news at home rather than crying on the phone to the nurse. It felt like I was taking some control back. Much to my surprise it was positive! The next few weeks felt like it dragged on forever as I waited for my first scan. Hearing Margot's heartbeat for the first time (as Jarrod waited in the car on video call due to Covid restrictions) was an incredible and surreal moment. I really wanted to share my news to my family in a special way as they had been on the journey with us. I gifted them a special Custom Print that I designed especially for this occasion.
I don't think it really sunk in that I was having a baby until about a month before my due date. I was sitting in our nursery looking around at everything I had put together and I thought - I can't believe it's actually my turn.
When it came to putting together a nursery I really wanted it to reflect our style whilst also taking into consideration that babies probably don't want a room that is completely white and beige!! I decided on a blush, white, nude and gold colour palette. I designed the room around our Gucci Flowers Print which was the focal point of the room. I then filled it with treasures I had collected during my pregnancy. Blush linen bedding, a white and rattan dresser, a boucle nursing chair, a hand embroidered pillow, dried blush flowers made by a friend, a shelf filled with books we had collected finished off with a Custom Initial Print in blush (which I designed when I found out I was pregnant).
Though it was a challenging journey it taught me that I had a deeper reserve of strength than I thought, and really needed all of it at times. But it's doable. Our friends and family really did show us how incredibly loved we were. To anyone going through something similar, I hear you and I feel you. Keep positive and never give up hope.
Finally, a thought from Jarrod. Guys, you're passengers through this whole process. You can and should support your other half as much as humanly possible, but there's no getting around the fact that neither of you have any control and you have less than your partner. The whole thing is a rollercoaster - big highs, huge anticipation but also dark days and disappointment - it's part of the process, trust it. Keeping the long term goal in mind helped me smooth out the ups and downs along the way. The best thing you can be is a rock. If you need a vent or a download, pick a mate and tell them because your other half is already handling their own emotional load.
Lastly, a couple of useful bits: If you're doing the IVF injections, it's called a jab for a reason. Don't try and gently sneak the needle in - I thought it was a great idea, turns out, not so much. Just a quick, deliberate jab. Numbing with an icecube for 30 seconds beforehand works too.
Also, controversially, domes > zips and in-built feet > socks. Have fun, go well.