It’s a Monday evening in the middle of June. My husband and I are zipping through the darkness along the winding road from Queenstown to Dunedin. Typically, a 3hr 30min drive in good weather conditions. However, an even longer drive with the icy conditions presented this evening. It’s a road that is well known to us by now but doesn’t get any easier to drive every time. Not only because of the high stakes of the trip. We are charged with emotion, serious nerves, and huge expectations because the road keeps us on our toes with narrow turns and accident black spots. We are on a mission to be successful with IVF treatment and contend with the added logistics and pressures of not living in a part of New Zealand with a local clinic.
Tomorrow is a big day. We have an embryo transfer! Egg collections and transfers are always early in the morning. Not ideal for remote travellers like us and negotiating wintery conditions. But of course, we don’t want to miss our appointment under any circumstances, even if this means that we will be sleeping in a soulless motel tonight. Embryo, we are coming for you! No matter what it takes.
We’ve left home later than we wanted tonight. There was a hold up with work and a few things that needed sorting. It’s always immensely hectic to fit IVF appointments around other life commitments. Or should I say to fit life around IVF treatment? IVF has undoubtedly been the dominant part for a long time now.
“Try not to let infertility overtake your whole life”. Wise words I’ve read in a magazine. But good luck with that when you live miles away from the clinic and need to drop everything after the scan shows that your eggs are finally ready for collection. After the trigger, you have 36 hours to make your way to Dunedin. Try not to break out in a sweat when you hear this. If the infertility journey is not hard enough by itself, then add the stress of travelling into the mix for a top-class anxiety cocktail. Challenge accepted.
I work as a marriage celebrant. A wedding day is one of the most important days in my couple’s lives. It’s not an option to postpone their day because I’m on my way to the clinic. Did I have to say no to a lot of wedding bookings around egg collection and transfer days? Yes. Did the unpredictability of an IVF cycle (my eggs march to their own drum) and the uncertainty around planning drive me nuts? Yip. Did I think daily, “this would be so much easier if Queenstown had a clinic?” Absolutely.
My work isn’t the only one impacted. My husband’s too. He has to drive me home after the egg retrieval in my sedated state and, of course, to be by my side for support.
We just zipped past the little town of Cromwell. Only 2 hr 45min to go. Will the cat be ok by herself overnight? The unanswered work emails in my inbox are also weighing heavy on my mind. I have lost count of how many times my husband and I have travelled this road by now. But we are a seasoned team, tagging in and out of driver and co-pilot modes. We’ve got this pretty dialled.
A good time for us to listen to podcasts together. We’ve got our snacks. We know where the good toilets are enroute (perfectly timed to arrive with a full bladder at the clinic for treatment as required) and the best cafes for a pit stop. This whole trip has become a sort of ritual for us.
Together we will climb this mountain. At the last session, my counsellor said that you have to see the positive in a miserable situation. I’m thankful for how this journey has brought my husband and me even closer together. Amen to that. I glance over and see his silhouette driving through the night. He is my rock.
There are so many things to ponder during long drives. But my mind is entirely consumed by one question: Will it work this time? No matter what, my mind keeps circling back to this—enough time to work yourself in a kind of a state. What if this is our last road trip to Dunners? I don’t want to get my hopes up, and the mind games I’m playing with myself seldom work. We just passed the tiny town of Lawrence. If you blink, you’ll miss it—only 1hr 8min to go.
Tomorrow is a fresh embryo transfer; we luckily don’t have the additional stressor of a frozen embryo transfer. Some embryos sadly don’t make the thawing process. And you’ll only learn this after you’ve made your way to the clinic, as the thawing only begins several hours before the transfer. I can hear the seagulls. We are checking into the same motel as last time. This is not our first rodeo.
After the transfer, we will go to our favourite brunch place before driving back—the three of us. Hopeful, I let my head sink into the pillows after another long day.