Three years ago this blog was not on my radar. My other blog The Great Pudding Club Hunt absolutely was. We were just about to start our third cycle of IVF and although I hoped and dreamed to be able to have my own blog about parenting, Aviana was not on our radar yet either. Three years ago, 21st March 2016, I set off on my work trip to Belgium; there was something else not on my radar, something unimaginable, something that can only be described as the absolute scariest moment of my life. And it is now three years later I fly to Belgium, writing this blog post with a major difference – I have the most beautiful daughter I can snuggle, teach, love, care for, cry for, laugh and play with. My perspective on that terrifying day has changed.
Anyone who has ever told an infertile couple to ‘Just Relax’ and you will conceive has a) never been through infertility and b) never heard our story of how Aviana was conceived. So let me tell why I believe telling someone who is trying to get pregnant to ‘Just Relax’ is a whole lot of crap…..
After Chris and I had received the news that our second round of IVF treatment was a complete and utter failure we had very different feelings about if or when we should attempt a third round of IVF. It was quite a low point in our infertility journey. I won’t tell you all the gory details here, that’s all captured in my other blog, but picture the lowest low you could be at, on the edge of giving up. Never-the-less, we started our third IVF cycle and I had started a regime of down-regulating the hormones in my body to prepare for hormone stimulating drugs. It was the first time I was traveling for work on my own meaning that I was going to have to give myself the injections. This in itself was pretty daunting….especially trying to figure out timings of injections over different time zones.
I landed in Brussels airport very early in the morning, so after I picked up my bags I decided to take a nice coffee to help perk me up after a tiring red eye flight before taking an 1.5hr train journey to Mons. I wondered around with time to kill, went to the toilet, got cash out, I wasn’t in a hurry to be somewhere. I headed to starbucks on the departures floor because my favourite drink is a tall skinny vanilla latte. I found somewhere to sit near an electrical outlet so I could charge my depleted phone battery, but just as I plugged in my phone there was a loud bang – it sounded like some building work had caved in – there was a lot of dust and confusion as we looked around, suddenly people were running – this all happened in 30 seconds, and then the second blast came – a giant shockwave went through me and a fireball went over my head, I vividly remember the heat and the smell in that instant. The ceiling had fallen down in front of my eyes, the glass behind me had shattered.
It was clear this wasn’t an accident, I found myself on the floor aware my life was in danger. People were wandering around dazed, screaming, running, crying falling over each other. I grabbed my phone, still plugged in, lying down on the floor and called Chris even though it was 3AM in the US – he answered and I thought in that moment I might be saying goodbye to him. I told him not to worry, that I’d be OK. But I thought this can’t be it – this isn’t it, there is more to come…terrorist modus operandi is to distract, create panic and cause mass casualties. I have to get out of here alive, but how? I didn’t know where to go, how to get out.
I won’t go through everything that happened that morning (you can read my blog post from that day), but I will say that the ONE thing that ran through my mind was my medication for my down regulation. Half of it was in my suitcase, the other half in my roller carry on bag. So I grabbed them both dragging and lifting them over the parts of the ceiling that had fallen down, broken glass, and other crap lying on the floor that people had abandoned in a panic.
In hindsight, I must have looked like a complete idiot worrying about my bags (we’ve all seen those videos of stupid people taking their suitcases down the aeroplane slide after emergency landings! Yeh – c’est moi!). All I could think was THIS WILL NOT RUIN MY IVF CYCLE. I’M NOT WAITING ANOTHER 2 MONTHS TO START AGAIN. Ha.
The terror of that morning continued (read my blog post) and I eventually found myself at a Hilton Hotel. As I finally made it to a room they graciously let me have (despite it clearly in the midst of some kind of improvement/renovation) I looked in the mirror, sweat, tears and black soot from the smoke was smeared across my face, ash in my hair and all over my clothes. My legs and stomach were sore and grazed – I still have no idea how that happened, I think I can understand now how people in the movies don’t realise they are shot until they have escaped the danger, look down and they are bleeding.
Stress. That was fucking stressful. It was the ANTI relaxation moment in my life. It was more stressful than rockets landing around me in Iraq (and Afghanistan) – at least there I expected that shit.
And yet….I continued to inject myself with hormones, we kept going with the IVF cycle…. several weeks after, sleep didn’t always come easy, flashbacks and survivors guilt followed. And yet…we were successful. Successful with my little fighter, Aviana (AKA Rocky).
This week I went back to the newly refurbished Brussels airport, I looked at the candles lit for those who lost their lives there three years ago, the giant bouquets of flowers near the small and modest memorial in the terminal, and I remembered how that day changed many people’s lives in ways unimaginable. Yet for me there was something amazing, it was also the beginning of how Aviana came to be. It will always be the bitter and darkest moment that eventually became the sunshine after the storm.
So fuck anyone that dares to say ‘Just Relax – it will happen’. For those of you fighting to grow your family, I salute your strength and squeeze you tightly with hugs of warmth to keep going. It can happen in those lowest of low moments when the stress seems like it’s over flowing and you’re drowning. We are anecdotal proof that relaxing is not the magic key. A little bit of science and a little bit of luck is what will get you there.
*NB. I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, but I wasn’t sure I really wanted to post it, but here it is 🙂