I’m a veterinarian. That means I’m a scientist—a medical scientist. I understand not just the anatomy and physiology, but also the pathophysiology, pharmacology and specific interventions associated with medical treatments in a range of species, including primates. And IVF and ET technologies were developed by vets and used in cattle reproduction, well before they were introduced as human reproductive technologies. So this IVF journey holds little medical mystery for me.
I’ve also been the gestational parent, multiple times, and I have experience as a volunteer supporting women through the perinatal mental health minefield—I understand the huge gamut of feelings and emotions and side-effects that might accompany both naturally conceived pregnancies as well as those achieved using assisted reproductive interventions. I know. And I sort of wish I didn’t. Because it means that I understand that things may never be the same again.
I know B’s cycle like a familiar pathway. I know how her mood fluctuates, how her body changes, how her sex-drive changes, and I know when her period is due, almost to the hour. That should have been tomorrow, mid-morning. Only it wasn’t. Good old “Aunt Flo”, to borrow a phrase from the online baby-making community, arrived this afternoon. That means our IVF journey has started—our day one blood test happens tomorrow morning. And I’m grieving, just a little bit.
I haven’t seen B much these last couple of days because she’s been out with her SES unit, activated in response to the flood crisis in south east Queensland after ex-tropical cyclone Debbie travelled down the coast dumping huge volumes of water into already full catchments, sending rivers crashing over their banks. As a result, we missed our last few days of just us—where her body was just mine, in the same way my body belongs to her. Because now the treatments start, and whether this cycle is successful or not, our normal has changed. So while I’m truly excited about expanding our family, and having a child with B, I am grieving the end of this stage of our relationship, and the loss of that last night as just Jodie and B.
I hate writing this—I sound like a petulant, self-centred bitch, but I promised myself I’d be honest in my documentation of this journey. My point is this: if I’d known this was how I would feel, I might have done things differently. Maybe someone else reading this will use my grief as a heads-up to prevent their own. They might take steps to make those last few days before treatment starts more special. Or not. Maybe I am just petulant and self-centred. Either way, they are my feelings and I will own them—I am grieving at the same time as I am starting an exciting, brand-new adventure with my soul mate. Life is messy and complicated, isn’t it?