Well it was ups and downs today.

Went to the clinic for my scan. All going well with my follicles, still plenty of them growing and they range between 9mm and 17mm which is much bigger than on Tuesday. The doctor wants to see some measuring 18mm before scheduling the egg retrieval, which is a full day event. This means egg retrieval won’t be next Monday or Tuesday as they had thought earlier in the week, but instead will probably be Wednesday or Friday.

I then had my nurse appointment. Firstly she tried to take some blood. And failed. Twice. So she went to get someone else to do it. Luckily nurse #2 succeeded. This is because my veins are not so near the surface and I only have one that works well for blood taking. Nurse #2 said I should ask for her to take my blood on Monday, as she didn’t want anyone screwing with my vein and making it unusable – which can happen when they take blood from the same one lots of times in quick succession.

You may recall that my hormone levels were not high enough the other day so I was a bit concerned about this. They said they were 400 and that they wanted them to be 500. I found out today that they were 498 the other day – so close! I’d have worried less if I knew that, and if they’d taken the sample half an hour later I bet I’d have tipped into the 500s. Anyway, I was still concerned about the hormone levels and I asked a bit about it. The nurse explained that high hormone levels indicate maturing eggs so they need to check the hormone levels keep going up, and that I was just responding to the drugs a bit slower than some. She said she was looking for a level of 1000 to 2000 today. I phoned in later for the results (nervous!) and they were 1800 so that was good news and well within expectations. Consequently, I’m just to carry on with the drugs as I have been and I must come in again on Monday for another scan and blood test. All being well they will schedule the egg retrieval then, hopefully for Wednesday.

Unfortunately this thing about egg retrieval on Wednesday rather than Mon/Tues is making me anxious. I’d like to get the nasty egg retrieval over and I’d like to be sure things were on track and know how many eggs I had, but that’s not what is freaking me out. It’s work. I don’t want to go into my work too much, but I’m in a senior strategic-level responsible job doing contract work, and I have this senior strategic-level responsible job because (usually) I am excellent at dealing with risk and changing priorities and short deadlines.

Now it is totally unfortunate that I took on a contract before I knew when this IVF would take place and that the job has some fixed points w/c 11th March (coinciding with a day off being needed for egg retrieval) and that these fixed points involve external people. It is also unfortunate that it is the end of the financial year and I have no wiggle room at all to extend the contract if I can’t herd these external people to meet my timescales during w/c 11th March. Given that a few weeks back I knew I’d be doing IVF and I had a vague idea of when I might need a full day out of action +/- 7 days, I left things as late as possible to arrange with my external people. I finally pinned things down last week when they said the egg retrieval day was very likely to be Monday or Tuesday. So now I have to rearrange everything that is scheduled for Wednesday and Friday ideally back the way to Monday and Tuesday. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that as Monday and Tuesday are the next working days to today so it is very short notice, but as I said I have no flexibility to run over so I can’t push it onwards. Also unfortunately, the nature of my work is that I can’t call in sick or give the work to anyone else or ask anyone else to do the rearranging for me. There is no-one else, it is all my responsibility.

I feel like now it is all conspiring against me and as I’ve said before I’m not coping so well as I usually do with situations like this. I have a job that demands a carefully balanced combination of planning and firefighting, and I’m having trouble with the firefighting part while I’m on these emotionally destabilising drugs. I managed not to cry. Well I let one tear out. That doesn’t count.

I feel anxious about whether I will be able to do all the rearranging without letting anyone down, and I feel worried about whether I made the right choices that have led me to this situation. But what could I have done? Logically I know I’ve done my best with the information I had and managed the risk well. My only realistic alternative to avoid any of this would have been to take the full six weeks off work, so that I had full flexibility around appointments and scans and injections and the possibility of feeling too terrible to work. Given that I only got one day notice of starting the IVF that wouldn’t have been so easy. This is just the nature of contract work. You are entirely responsible for delivering to deadlines and you have to agree to stuff ages in advance. If you fail to do stuff you don’t get paid, you get a bad reputation, and it has a negative effect in your client organisation at a strategic level. Letting my clients down has a wide ripple effect for me. On the other hand, contract work for me means I can do stuff at times to suit me, so it is only when external people are involved that melding work and IVF becomes a big problem. In some ways it is actually almost convenient to change my hours to suit the IVF schedule. Plus if I hadn’t taken on any work during this period, I would have had no income and I’d have spent 95% of the working day sitting about doing nothing.

When I mentioned my anxiety to the nurses I felt so judged though, I think because it seems like I am not prioritising the IVF and taking it seriously enough or something. So I felt completely misunderstood.

My work is important to me, it is part of who I am. Professionalism is important to me and so is not letting people down. That’s not the heart of the issue though. The problem here isn’t that I’m a workaholic or a career bitch or that I am taking too much responsibility. I genuinely believe I’m not guilty of those things. My job is what my job is, I just have to make the best of that during this process.

The heart of the issue is that work is grounding for me as it keeps me sane and stops me freaking out about my personal life. I’ve mentioned before that I have been consciously doing things to protect my wellbeing, and work is one of them. It always has been, and it has got me through some very tough times before. Including the monstrous years of infertility – you need something to throw yourself into to distract yourself from the pain. The job satisfaction and sense of accomplishment keeps me positive and the tasks and routine helps me tick the days off. If I’d taken the time off I would have been driven mad with all the waiting that IVF involves. I’m certain I’ve made the right choices for me around fitting both work and IVF in, but I just wish there were fewer unknowns so that I could have more effectively planned to avoid the extra hassle. There’s no need to actively provoke the anxiety!