Real talk

In the shower this morning my mind was wandering. I was thinking back through this whole IF/RPL road. I had little moments and snippets of memories float in and out. On the floor crying and bleeding knowing I was losing my dream. In the RE’s office waiting for yet another IVF cycle to start. Standing in the grocery store next to the milk and hearing ‘sorry it was negative’ for yet another time. So many moments all strung together. It felt so momentous, it felt like it was all so many lifetimes and it felt so unsurmountable at the time.

Then I did the the math and realized it ‘only’ took me a year and a half of IVF for my miracle toddler and two and a half years of IVf/ DE for this current ‘P’. Yes that included a lot of crap and money and bad news and anguish but it wasn’t that long in comparison to many. I have a friend going on her fourth year in pursuit of her first child. Now that must be a special kind of hell. I know of some bloggers going into year seven or even ten trying to find that first and probably only little soul to join their family. How you carry on and even stay positive and so often gracious eludes me.

The realization of all of this struck me. You see, I admit I feel such pride that I have been able to keep my joy and optimism through most of this. I feel strength in my ability to keep fighting and to keep choosing happiness. But you see, I haven’t been truly tested like so many others. How does it feel to be in year four or five or even freaking ten without a child? How do you hang onto hope and joy after loss four or five? I can’t even begin to imagine.

I guess where I am headed with this is I am humbled by what felt like the hardest dang road to travel but might sound like an easy path to others. I have no idea why the world of IF/RPL is endlessly cruel to some and seemingly short lived to others. I am amazed by the strength it takes to have to battle this for as long as some do. I imagine for those fighting so hard and for so long the ability to stay hopeful and joyful is near impossible. It just comes down to survival and to protecting yourself and to finding a way to put one foot in front of the other. I imagine the longer this goes on the more irrevocably people change. I only hope that the eventual joy or peace is that much more magnified as well.

Lately

I have found as this ‘p’ progresses I am relating to people a little differently in a way that surprises me. I am not sure if relating is the right word for this but let me explain.

I have a family member that is about 8 weeks further along than me and I feel such distance to her and her pregnancy. Some of the reasons are petty. She has had such an easy time with everything including getting pregnant and if I am honest I feel a little bit of resentment. Terrible I know but true. On top of feeling like I can’t relate- she also has a history of getting upset when I miss an event or family trip because of IVF or miscarriage so that makes me more resentful. She really had no idea how awful it all was and I think did her best in her own way to be supportive. I know that when you don’t know the struggle and pain it is hard to empathize. I realize that it is not really her fault and more my emotional/ mental issue. I have learned along the way that most people don’t mean any ill intentions and often it is my own interpretations or simply their lack of understanding. That has helped me take ownership when I am hurt by others. Still- it provides a little bit of stress and guilt to have us be so close in our ‘p’s’ but I am trying to be honest with myself and work through it.

Then I have a best friend who just had another baby and is as fertile as they come. Yet I only feel joy and happiness for her and her babies. She doesn’t necessarily ‘know’ the struggle but has always been so lovely and kind and supportive. Something about her humility and grace in life makes me feel like she has true compassion. I feel like her good fortunes are all so well placed and well deserved. Ha- as if I am the one who gets to deem this???

I also feel a slowly lessening need to isolate and protect myself. I am still cautious and occasionally riddled with fear but I can feel myself re-emerging in the social world. This truly feels incredible. Oh how I have missed the feeling of not having to protect and guard myself at every moment and in so many situations. So many times I stayed home for an event because I am full of hormones and not drinking but not because I am ‘p’ but simply because I am in another mock cycle that will cost money and end in nothing. That is one of the most isolating parts of IF to me. The frozen in a perpetual place of waiting and hoping while life goes on around you. You don’t know when it will all end and it feels like a never ending cycle that always ends in despair. I have always been able to find joy and gratitude even in dark places so it’s not like I have been walking around sad and depressed but there has been this looming cloud always hovering. Always there. It is pretty terrifying and exciting after so many years to see light ahead. I am trying to focus on the here and now and just be present.

Part of me kind of rolls my eyes and says ‘yeah of course you can re-emerge now that you are ‘p’ ‘ but a bigger part of me is just glad it is happening.

So I guess what I am trying to say is this struggle has really changed the way I relate to others but also that I can see how one day it will feel distant. I have always been afraid to have this struggle kill my joy or change me for the bad but I can feel my old joy still there and my old self still strong. 10 failed Ivf cycles and three losses couldn’t break me. That gives me hope that at the end of the day I will not have let IF win. The pain is etched, and I would like to think my compassion and empathy deepened but my inner core and love for life remains untouched.

Wishing all of you the ability to be present in whatever phase you are and find some kind of joy around you. Some moment of gratitude. I think it is the key to getting through all of this without turning bitter or losing ourselves too much.

Xo

First Tri Recap

***trigger warning: scary first few weeks of ‘p’ and some talk about being ‘p’

 

 

I am going to be honest here. The first few months of being ‘P’ were hard. Super hard. We fight and battle and claw our way with blind relentlessness just to see those two lines, to hear those words from your clinic, to finally be ‘P’. It seems so rough and a bit surprising that the next phase should be in some ways more mentally challenging. Notice I don’t say harder. I am hard pressed to find anything harder than being in the desperate rat wheel of IF/RPL. The negative after negative, failed cycle after cycle, life on hold as people and the world pass you by. Yet you must hold it together, be gracious, keep hope and keep fighting. That is harder. The knowledge of that never leaves me. Not for a second.

Doesn’t make the mental challenge of literally carrying something you have dreamed of inside you but not knowing if it will last, if it will stay any easier. Will it all be ok or if it will be ripped from you once again. Leaving you even more devastated because you were that much closer. The dream was growing inside you. You know the statistics. You know that doubling beta is good but not near a guarantee. You know a first good ultrasound is great but not even close to safe. You know a second good ultrasound is really good but darn it still not clear.

I was going through this mental challenge when the day after my first good ultrasound, I started bleeding. A lot. Every chemical and every miscarriage I bled. I fell to the floor sobbing. I just knew it was over. My husband held me together and we rushed in for another ultrasound. Miraculously the heart was still beating. But the doctor on call cruelly told me ‘bleeding causes miscarriage and miscarriage causes bleeding. It doesn’t look good’. I understand her need to temper expectations but that is all that kept repeating in my head for weeks. I went home and was in bed for the entire next week. My husband and my Mom took over the house and parenting and I lay in bed near comatose desperately checked for blood (it abated quickly but I didn’t know if it would come back). I sometimes couldn’t breath out of fear. I didn’t do anything but lie there. No reading no Netflix just trying to keep my mind blank and prepare for my next bleeding check. It was to this day- the hardest week of my life.

Yet miraculously my symptoms got stronger. I started to get such strong morning sickness the miserableness of it quelched the mental fear. I started to hope for it to get worse. The worse I felt physically the better I felt mentally. A strange situation. I would puke and then cry with happiness. I would lie in bed moaning and tearing up at the same time.

Then came the next ultrasound and progressive symptoms and finally I could breath a little. I took back my life duties and kept plowing ahead.

Now here I am- a few weeks into my second tri after a good NT scan and just hanging onto every shred of gratitude that comes my way. I don’t know how I somehow made it to this point but all I am focusing on is the moment. My current fortune. I can’t begin to understand how the world works. Why me now? I mean logistically the miracle gift of donor eggs is the answer to the above but it is still not a guarantee. I chose a path that statistically would lead to this right now at some point. But it could have been longer. It could have been harder.

Those of you reading this and wondering why me for a different reason. Why isn’t it my turn? Why another failure? When will it end? I hope in the short future you will look back on this moment and realize the light was just up ahead. You were almost there. The energy and stamina is takes to keep going is something that builds inside us, making us stronger and stronger. That doesn’t make this all worth it, but it does leave us with lasting strength to face the future. It does make you beautifully resilient in the face of hardship. It does give you profound depth to the joy when it comes.

Xoxo

 

 

Fear of Falling

An often forgotten casualty of IF/RPL is the fear of succumbing or falling into happiness. We guard our hearts and emotions every cycle, every blood draw, every ultrasound, every new felt ‘symptom’ that we are sometimes fearful of letting go of that guard or removing that emotional buffer. At least I am. To cope and survive and keep fighting, I had to not put my emotions on the line during each 10+ failed IVF cycles and each 3 failed pregnancies and all the appointments and milestones in between. I had to prepare for the bad and take the good in stride lest it get quickly ripped away as it seemed to do time and time again.

So sitting here, just now in trimester two of a long fought for, pleaded for, clawed for and yes (even paid for in blood, tears and money) miracle baby, I realize I often guard myself when I fall into feelings of happiness. Then I wonder how long will I do this? Will I do this now when anything good happens? Do I have an ‘end goal’ in sight where I will allow the happiness to seep in and blanket me in joy? I don’t want to wait for a ‘safe’ time. I want to enjoy and appreciate the now.

But if I am honest that is easier said than done. Don’t get me wrong, I have cried tears of gratitude three times this week and it is only Wednesday. I allow that warm feeling of hope and joy to come in. But I also still feel guarded. I still feel quiet and most definitely humble about this ‘p’. I think part of that is ok. I know enough to just take each moment as it comes. But another part of me wants to stop waiting for the time where I am allowed to feel happy. I am content with trying to find the right middle ground.

Anyone have thoughts or advice? If you are reading this and knee deep in just praying for the miracle of my current ‘struggle’ please know I am truly truly grateful and know I am beyond lucky. Not sure why me but I appreciate it every second. Xo

Timelines

The timelines in our head are sometimes the roughest part of all this. The ‘I hope I am pregnant by x date’ ‘ Please let us be matched by Christmas’ ‘ another wedding to attend, I only wish they don’t announce a pregnancy before we do’.. the list goes on and on. These arbitrary timelines put so much added pressure on us and don’t really mean much except meeting our own expectations. I occasionally found it hard to be lapped by people with a child much younger and also found holiday milestones to be tough at times.

One thing I did pretty early on in this pursuit was to really battle my mind to get rid of these timelines. I forced out comparisons, tried my best to not calculate     what a pregnancy this month would mean or not mean and did everything I could to soak up holidays in whatever way I could (extra wine anyone) and not use them as another measure of time passing me by. This is no easy feat and took lots of me training my brain to let go of thoughts creeping in, getting off or minimizing social media where I could get glossy and often staged reminders of what others are doing that I am not. The strategy of part sheltering myself and part brain strength made most (not all) of the passing time while I wait actually enjoyable.

I think close to 100 percent of people who end up with a child in their arms will tell you they would do it all over again, go through all the pain and endure the long wait for that specific child and only that child in their arms. Hearing this while you are waiting kind of registers and it helps sometimes but is not truly understood until said child is in your arms. Especially when you are crying over a lowering beta, or yet another box of meds to unpack or a cute pregnancy announcement from that girl from HS who has like 5 kids already. It is hard to see through that pain.

For me, I trained my brain to see every failed cycle, every terrible phone call, every bill paid, every holiday passed as one more milestone and one more day closer to my baby. A countdown to the end of this hell and to a miracle. Not another day gone by without it. To be fair here- I had also made a decision with my husband that we would find our way to a child. We were willing to choose third party reproduction, adoptions, foster care, whatever we ended up needing to pursue. This made my countdown so much easier. I recognize that not everyone has the ability or desire to pursue any route possible and I am fortunate and grateful that we do.

For those of you with limited options or paths– my heart goes out to you because that is truly a hard road. I wish you peace along the way. But for those of you with options and avenues I hope you find a way to make it a countdown to the miracle not a fight against passing time.

xo

Thoughts on biology

I feel like I am in a somewhat unique situation with my miracle own egg IVF toddler and currently ‘P’ with another little miracle DE IVF baby. Let me say first that my gratitude for the miracle of science and technology is overwhelming. I have always dreamt and imagined and desired a family and can only have one because of the advances in medicine,  technology and third party reproduction. I don’t feel angry about how unfair it is that I had to go this route, rather happy it is an option.

Now that I am hopeful for another child to join our family thanks to Donor Eggs, I have been thinking about having one child with OE and one with DE and wanted to share some thoughts.

Since I was little  I always imagined I would adopt. I know this isn’t adoption per say but adding parties to the creation of my children feels totally normal and easily accepted. If adopting wasn’t so hard and expensive we could have gone that route. (Side note for an eye roll for those people that say ‘just adopt’. Also- pretty messed up system that it is easier and less costly to purchase eggs than a child already created and in need of a home). I don’t have any emotional issues or concerns with a lack of genetic link and hope to create a home environment where my children have none as well. But if they do- I will be open and willing to navigate that.

There is something about losing a bio connection to your child that really forces your ego out of who they are. I have a number of friends who have their ego so tied up in who and what their children become. They envision them as ‘mini them’ that puts pressure on the poor kids. They can’t see how making your child an extension of you takes away their ability to become who they are. Losing the bio link almost forces this clean slate of seeing your child for who they are, not looking for yourself in them. I find tremendous value and beauty in raising your children this way.

I could not feel more in love or more pure joy for my little toddler. I love watching him become who he is everyday. I have never stared at him looking for ‘my nose’ or my ‘competitiveness’. He seems fully unique from me and his completely own person. I am not downplaying or judging the desire of many to create little versions of them and their partner. I get it. That is pretty common and normal. I have just found fascination and fulfillment in seeing who this little being is regardless of my genes in him and how I can create an environment for him to thrive. That makes me confident our family will embrace and grow with any mixture of babies we are lucky enough to bring in.

Having had the privilege to bring a miracle IVF baby into our family has taught me so much about what a Mom means to me. I have found out that a bio link or genetic link is not what a Mother is to me. It is all the other nurturing and caring and loving and worrying and sleepless nights and dedication. The love and care given to the child placed in your arms.

Final side note. A mother is also someone who has seen a positive pregnancy test- felt the deep hope and love only to lose the pregnancy. It is someone who lies in bed yearning for a positive pregnancy test so they can finally give all the love that is bottled up in their heart and soul. A mother is someone still waiting their turn for a miracle but finds the strength to celebrate the babies and children around them. The love in your heart makes you a Mom. I hope those of you still waiting and pleading and hoping are kind to yourselves today. Take a moment to celebrate your strength. My heart is with you.

Xoxo

 

 

Gratitude

Everything along this donor cycle has felt like a dream. Finding our donor was so easy and she felt so perfect. Her cycle lined up beautifully, we retrieved so many eggs, they fertilized well, the transfer went great betas were solid and now here I am looking at real picture evidence at an actual OB office of my little miracle. It still feels like a dream.

Almost 3 years (6 of you include my first battle with Infertility for my miracle toddler), 10 IVF cycles, three losses, 100k plus spent or in debt and a surgery later and here we are. I am overcome with a feeling of why me? Why am I fortunate to have this? Some might think I feel like it is owed to me after the pain and hardship or that I feel like ‘finally it is my turn’ but I don’t.  I know so many struggle and I have such humility that I have been the one to be given this gift right now. The dream like state is mostly a cloud and sometimes a hole. I am still riddled with fear on occasion. I had a scary bleeding episode that made me almost catatonic for days, for a week I thought I was miscarrying, I am crazy nauseous but all that fills my heart at this moment is gratitude.

I walked into this OB office in my current fortunate situation, not facing a loss. I was able to pursue donor eggs. I have a little nugget growing safely inside me right now. It could all be so different. I could still be priming for a transfer, looking at a failed beta, anything. Instead I am here. In a place of hope.  All the disappointment and loss has made every moment full of emotion and so rich.

I sat in the waiting room next to a super smug fertile couple. They talked loudly as if on a stage. They wanted to share how busy their important jobs were (the husband loudly said to his wife– honey when you go to NY stay at the Four Seasons it is far better on business) they made sure we all knew she was six weeks pregnant and they already had a personal designer designing a nursery room. I could go on but I don’t want to relive the obnoxious smugness. But you know what it made me feel? Grateful for my struggle. I know not to take this precious life for granted, I know to be sensitive to those who may be in the waiting room for tough reasons. My husband and I have humility from this battle and we also have strength and unbridled joy for the good. I was happy not to be walking in their smug and innocent and boisterous path. My lane brought me here today and it may have taken some terrible turns but here I am. Filled with hope and humility and a grateful heart.

As I said before, I won’t blog about being ‘p’. I won’t keep a weekly counter (for those curious I am in the double digits) Just about how it has been to pursue donor eggs and my current experience and reflection as an infertile. I hope that wherever you are on this path right now, the hope that the future will hold moments that make this crap all worth it keeps you going.

 

xo

 

Commenting 101

Hi there,

I have been perusing other blogs lately and have come upon a number of comments that have really surprised and disappointed me.  I feel strongly that this IF/RPL community should ONLY lift one another up. This is not a place for debate/ criticism or teaching lessons. This is a safe place to vent, be heard and gain strength to keep fighting. With this in mind, I wanted to share a few rules of thumb when commenting on someone’s blog. ( I do understand that those of you actually reading this are in my corner and are my people so probably would never need to read this but maybe you can share it with someone who does).

1. If you have to start a comment with ‘please don’t take this the wrong way but…’ then do NOT make the comment. This one kind of goes for in real life to. That disclaimer never actually works and it usually precedes something rude or not your business.

2. Do not tell others that ‘it may not be God’s plan’. This is offensive on every level and is usually said by someone who has three kids under three and can smugly make claims about ‘what God wants’.

3. Do your best not to make your own story what you think everyone should do and share it as such. Did you transfer three embryos and are so glad you did? Great. But don’t act like now everyone must transfer three to be happy. Sharing your own story and success can be great to help relate to others but don’t use it as the template upon which all others must use.

4.When in doubt just validate and support. We all want to feel just a little less alone, a little more heard and surrounded by love. Keep this in mind before pressing send.

 

Ok- thanks for letting me share. Call it hormones, call it sensitivity but negative or non supportive comments on other blogs send me into a protective rage these days. Thanks for letting me vent/ share. So much love to all of you.

xo

Validation

So I just received the text below from one of my absolute best friends. We have navigated our careers together and been through a lot. This text meant more than I can say. Through this IF/ RPL hell what has kept me going and motivated and positive is wanting to remain as she describes. To have her validate my hopes and the very foundation of what has kept me going feels unreal. I have said many times that my hope is that my pain and struggles can show people around me that through all the hard times you can still find joy and hope. If I can help inspire someone else ( even if it puts their own problems into perspective- you know the ‘I am soglad I am not her thing’) than at least I can know good around me is happening because of this. Here is her text:

 

I am so proud of YOU! Honest, you have no idea how much I think of you. What you have endured and grown from over the last few years inspires me. Not only the perseverance, but you’ve let it make you a better person and never let it affect your outward interactions. That takes a special person. Most would understandably retreat into themselves and be self focused to survive. You don’t. That’s quite incredible. Time like now remind me of how much I have learned from you in sales as I go nuts, but knowing the last few years motivates me to be a better person outside of work like you.

 

So there it is. Such amazing words that fill me with pride and emotion. As Maya Angelou says “true character is tested in the rain not in the sunshine” or something to that affect. Goodness knows we have all been ‘character tested’ way beyond and I am proud to be alongside you all in this battle.

 

xo

A different Christmas

In our kind of Jewish household we sorta celebrate Hanukkah and majorly celebrate Christmas. It is a festive and cozy and all- inclusive Holiday season. This year is and feels so different. For starters we are home (just the three of us) for the first time ever. We have always alternated with my family and my husband’s family and this year it is just the three of us. Super cozy in our Christmas pajamas, cookies baking and all my decorations all over the house.

This year is also different than many many years past because I have the hope of being newly ‘p’ filling my heart with gratitude. I can’t quite ‘announce’ it or even write it or really even think it for fear of jinxing it all away but it feels like a Christmas miracle. So many times I dreamt of this kind of Christmas and so many times I downed wine trying to wish the season to pass quickly and convince myself next year will be different. I am far enough along to feel very nauseous and to have those reassuring scans but still early enough to feel fragile and occasionally scared. It is a beautiful and terrifying time.

I don’t plan on blogging about my ongoing ‘p’ or bumpdate or anything like that. This is an IF/RPL space and I intend to honor that. Those type of posts can be triggers for many. I do know that good news from other bloggers can motivate some so I wanted to share our progress.

The decision to pursue donor eggs has been the greatest pivot of this whole terrible ride. I was just ready to finally get off the horrific ride, to live, to be normal and donor eggs have given me hope that I can finally end this hell with a beautiful baby.

I hope that wherever you may be in your journey, you always have hope for the future. Hope for a new cycle, a new plan, even acceptance of a new reality. You each are warrior women for putting one foot in front of the other, living your lives and supporting one another. You are all my heros. I also hope that if Christmas was tough, you now realize it is almost over and a new year is right around the corner. 2017 will be different for all of us. Hugs.