So, six weeks of injecting hormones and thousands of pounds later (keep breathing Lunar; just breathe and mention your shop), my good friend and neighbour drove me to the clinic to welcome one of my snow babies home.
Sitting in the waiting room, my phone started to sing. Two missed messages, both from the embryologist asking me to phone her. I had a cold couple of minutes to wait before she led us into her office. No snow babies. No transfer today. Both protective shells had broken in the freeze and the thaw and those precious cells inside now had no hope of life.
As she spoke, my own shell cracked open and a chill draught touched my heart. You might not have known, though. I calmly listened to her explanation, asked sensible questions, insisted on the earliest possible date for the next step and left with smiles and thanks for the staff, because I didn't want them to feel bad. I'm very good at taking bad news. (I actually cut short the commiserations of the nurse who rang to say Thomas had died because I needed to be with Pickle while she had breakfast.) Life just goes on. Except for when it doesn't.
Halfway down the corridor some tears found the exit and I stopped for a hug. We talked in the car about what I could do next, but my brain wasn't really engaged. At home, I sat on my bed and just stared out the window for half an hour, no thoughts or emotions, just a subtle adjustment to the new world order. Then I had a nap and made Pickle's tea. It was the next day, glancing up at myself while brushing my teeth, that I really cried.
I will try again, but first my body needs a month to let this batch of hormones go and be ready for more. And I need this time to be ready for more too. No-one said it was easy and they were all right.
But it is a lot easier for having my girl with me. We are leaving love notes for each other to find,
spontaneously charging each other for hugs
and enjoying the sun when it shines.
Pickle has made progress in her career as a paleontologist, excavating fossils including a chick in its shell and in the process learning why paleontologists traditionally work outside:
There is always hope.