Trying... to dress
Six hours before this photo was taken, I was sedated while having my eggs retrieved. As I settle into my rather undesirable status of an IVF veteran - now on my seventh round - I am doing and not doing the things I feel like doing more and more.
At times that means I push back when my kind doctor, to whom I have grown close, (I mean how you could you not - I see him more than most of my friends and family) advises time off work to rest, or in this instance, not getting up and going out to an awards ceremony after sedation.
But it was the annual Radio Academy Awards and after lockdown kept the industry apart for two years, I felt like going to be with my colleagues and peers. So I did.
Yes, I felt wobbly. Yes, I am unsure of what I said on stage next to the gem that is Rylan, who was hosting. But no, I don’t regret it. Not one iota.
This was made easier by deciding not to do my hair and donning my unofficial easy uniform. And that’s what I wanted to address in this newsletter: clothes.
Something about me which is a little unusual is the fact I don’t wear trousers. Ever. I don’t own a single pair beyond my PJs/elasticated house-only trousers and sports leggings. I did wear a pair of black jeans a few months ago - but they are now gifted to someone else - as I found the experience so uncomfortable around my stomach.
I haven’t since I was about 21 for two main reasons: one, my figure genuinely looks better in dresses and skirts. And two, the aforementioned tummy pressure isn’t worth enduring. Enough things in life are uncomfortable. I don’t need anymore. And that was it. A habit was born.
But I was thinking about the modifications one makes going into IVF treatment each time. In fact I was talking to a pal the other day and she just mentioned in passing that she was “well into her IVF dresses, jogging bottoms and full IVF wardrobe now the needles stage was on”.
And I realised clothes are part of the raft of changes you make too. Even though I have lot of dresses and have essentially automated my wardrobe (but with a bit more colour and variety than Mark Zuckerberg’s grey t-shirt), I realise that I have been buying looser styles for the last two years while on and off drugs.
I haven’t consciously decided to - but it’s happened - helped nicely by the trend for baggier floral dresses - but I have stayed consistently looser, even when presenting on TV.
This is because comfort has become even more key. Bloated stomachs the colour of blueberries, as the bruises from the blood thinner injections start to join up into one bluish purple mass, demand loose soft fabrics. And care. Nothing banging against them - including my trusted cross-shoulder handbags, which I now flip around to my back - regardless of the heightened security risk.
A dear friend sharing a changing room with me the other day caught glimpse of the state of my bruised swollen tummy and gasped saying simply: “Oh Em.”
I just shrugged my shoulders and said “it is what it is”. What else is there to say?
The fashion modifications don’t stop there though. Comfier shoes are non-negotiable for me. I was of limited patience before with foot discomfort; now, stomping around on hormones, any shoe that hurts is banished.
And knickers. Shall we talk knickers? It would be rude not to.
I snorted tea out of my nose when I once heard the presenters of the infertility podcast, Big Fat Negative, once describe the significant discharge in the gusset of one’s pants post the three-time daily pessary insertion as “knicker stiffeners”. It’s the perfect descriptor.
Hence why for the entire duration of a treatment - however long it might be - black knickers are out (so I can see clearly what’s going on at all times while on what I like to term toilet patrol) and a constant panty liner is in.
IVF Fashion Week/Month/Year has a certain ring to it. I’m already doing it. Now who’s with me?
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