It really is that hard

As a follow up to my post yesterday ( and sparked by an insightful comment). I wanted to validate the pain that IF/ RPL is. 

If you woke up wondering how and why you have to face it all again today. If you woke up feeling like you must be weak because the fight feels like it is being sapped from you. Just know, it isn’t your weakness or inability to cope. This road really is that hard. 

We often get lost in the turbulence of emotions. The frustration, pain and desperation constantly fighting with the will of the human spirit to find joy, hope and balance. Some days you feel ok and even good, others you wonder how you can keep doing this.

I remember wondering how to gain better perspective. How to let go and just believe it will happen when it happens. I would wonder why it was so hard for me to take it in stride. I eventually ‘gained perspective’ and even felt like I was able to fully be happy in the struggle. But truly being out of the fight I realize it took everything out of me to keep myself going and find happiness. And even those moments were tainted by the deep pain and fear of this pursuit for a child(ren).

When you are out of the never ending Groundhog Day from hell that is RPL/IF you realize that yes it really is that hard. That you held onto the good moments when you could but you were often a shell of your former self. When you are finally out, you feel gratitude for emerging but also sadness for how much the fight took. You feel guilt for those still in it because you know it really is that hard. You refresh your browser ten times an hour waiting for your fellow bloggers beta results because you know how everything can change in an instant. You want that change to lead to the other side for them.

So to those of you surrounded by friends or family that don’t understand why each day your dreams stay unfulfilled is so hard. By society that doesn’t validate this struggle. Even by a partner that doesn’t get why you are hiding out from yet another family function. I get it. We get it. You are not alone in the pain even though it feels like it. It’s ok to be jealous and mad and frustrated and angry. It isn’t because you aren’t being strong enough. It is because it takes everything out of you and just getting through it is a great accomplishment. Sending my love.

Advertisements

Better than a dream

***sensitivity warning: this discussing life after ivf/ donor egg treatment success. Not a great post to read unless you want inspiration to keep plugging along or are since resolved. Please take care of yourself and protect your own needs.***
Here I sit, on the other side of 10 Failed IVF cycles, 3 miscarriages and a donor egg pursuit. To the outside eye I have an unconventional family with a child from another woman’s eggs, I am over 100k in debt from years and years of treatment and have survived loss after loss. I am sure many feel happy they aren’t me or glad their road was easier or cheaper or shorter. (I also know a select few would give anything for what I have).

But guess what? Life is better than I could ever even hope. It is all I could dream up. The chaos greets me early in the morning. My often whining 3 (almost 4 year old) and minimal sleeping 1 month old and stressed husband trying to pay our bills and debt and C section scar and lingering pain and messy house and just sit for one second thinking ‘how did I get so lucky??’. I love the chaos. I am so in love with my adorable miracle boy even when he is whining or yelling. My little sweet daughter is everything I could hope for. I marvel at her little hands and nose at 3am while I am nursing her with little sleep. The origin of her genetics unremarkable in the magic she is. I hug my stressed husband tight and we both agree it is all worth it and money is nothing compared to our full house.

So many moments leading up to this were so awful. The call from the clinic with yet another failed cycle. The blood arriving one week into a pregnancy. The plummeting credit score as we mount more debt. The baby showers with quiet mourning, the announcements and ensuing jealousy. The days and weeks and months going by not knowing when it will end, if it will end. So much of it was horrific.

All of that pain and anguish pales in comparison to the joy that is here today. I have no idea why or how it took all of that. But I no longer care. It all led to this. I am so ever grateful.

I hope these words don’t hurt anyone. I hope they articulate that third party reproduction, that life after loss, that an unconventional path can be just as happy as your plan A happening. That the pain and hurt and anguish is digging a deeper and deeper well to be one day filled to the brim with joy.

Xo

Public Thank You

I just opened up a package from our amazing fellow blogger 30 year old nothing and started crying. The gifts and note were so unexpected and flooded so many emotions.

The relief to be here.

The pain it took to get here.

The loss that had to occur to give us our miracles.

The strength this community gives me.

The anguish we all have to endure.

The resilience of the human spirit.

The deep desire to be a Mom we all have.

So thank you so much 30 Year Old Nothing for the beautiful and thoughtful gifts but also for somehow encompassing all the emotions and highlighting the true life-saver this community is.

Xoxoxooxoxo
Ps- if I was at all tech saavy I would link your blog so hopefully you will link it in the comments 🙂

Be easy on yourself

Let this be a PSA today that you are enough, that you are still whole even during the worst of the depths of IF/RPL. 

Be easy on yourself. You doing more than anyone should have to do to have a healthy baby in your arms. Don’t blame yourself. 

Be easy on yourself. Eating a gluten laden donut to get through a tough morning is ok. Drinking a second glass of wine after another ‘P’ announcement is ok. They don’t mean you don’t want a baby or that any of this is your fault or a result of your diet, etc.  

Be easy on yourself. We are ‘supposed to’ be able to have sex and a baby is made so any extra steps you have to take are just steps that show your dedication, your strength, and your beautiful Mom heart that is already formed.

Be easy on yourself. This fight is hard. Just waking up and battling it each day is a great accomplishment.

Be easy on yourself. You don’t have to always be happy for others who have what you so desperately want.

Be easy on yourself. You don’t have to go to that tenth kids party or family event that might trigger you.

Be easy on yourself. You have to walk around with the deep desires of a Mother but a body that won’t fulfill it. That is hard. So hard. You are a warrior. Let your thoughts be kind to you. You deserve it. 

Xo

How we react 

So if you knew my family growing up you knew us at the house full of girls with pretty cool and fun parents (except Dad who had major strict rules for dating us). My parents never cared about grades or accolades, more that we were kind to others and were passionate about what we did and happy. It was a pretty ideal upbringing. 

Our house was mostly bare of inspirational quotes and artwork but we did have a magnet on the fridge that said “life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it”. As early as I could remember I would read that magnet and try to understand what it meant. As I got older it became more and more clear. The world is not fair, and there is so much out of our control, but rather than lament the bad or unfair stuff, we have control over how we react to it all. It empowered me when I felt powerless. It inspired me when I felt beat down.

I think about how relevant it is to this struggle. IF/ RPL is SO unfair. It doesn’t discriminate. Why are our bodies made this way when our hearts are meant to be Moms? Why does one pregnancy end in a beautiful baby and another in heartbreak? It can all just beat you down. It can break you. So much of this is out of our control. Really the only thing we can control is how we react. How do we grieve another failed cycle? How do we find the courage to try again? How do we handle all the hormones and shots and drugs? How do we summon the ability to celebrate our friend’s and families babies? How do we keep our spirit alive and hopeful?

How we react to this fight will define us our whole lives. I am NOT saying we don’t grieve and cry and vent and wallow. We must do that. We are human. This sucks and we need to process it. But we do have to find a way to keep a piece of ourselves along the way. To remember we are more than this struggle. 

Since our reaction to all this is all we can control, I have always wanted to feel empowered and proud of mine. This meant grieving and crying but then dusting myself off and finding the optimism wherever I could. It meant celebrating the good news of others, even when I just wanted to crawl into a hole. It meant sharing my pain with those I love and giving them grace if they unknowingly said the wrong thing. It meant not feeling like a victim of Infertility and pregnancy loss but rather a victor of a shit hand because I was still standing and ok.

Sending you all love and strength as we start another week. 

Supporting and Triggers

I talked to a good friend today still deep in the trenches of IF and it got me thinking about the dynamics of this community. The fact that we are all banded together in our fervent and, let’s be honest,  often desperate attempt have a healthy baby. We are banded together so tightly because someone struggling with it can only truly get it. Yet we all ebb and flow through this struggle. Someone who you followed eagerly knowing the words they would write were somehow so much the voice in your head suddenly got their BFP and just post bump pictures and pregnancy cravings. Now opening up the WordPress app is not a guarantee you won’t face the same triggers of glowing FB announcements. It’s hard because we all support each other and are rooting for one another but can easily feel left behind. Or mark our own long journey by the number of bloggers who have resolved while we have been writing.

It is hard because the emotions are complicated. You want so badly your fellow IF/ RPL warriors to get their miracle yet when they do it is also a small dagger reminding you it is still not your turn. Still not your miracle. Then this little dagger brings you guilt because you want this for them. You don’t want the tinge of jealousy that comes with it though. You don’t want the trigger bump pics provide even if you want them to have the growing bump.

Then if you are someone who has received that miracle BFP- what do you do? Do you write about the pregnancy? Goodness knows you have earned the right and the blog is your space to write your story. Others can simply unfollow. But yet- you know the pain and you don’t want to be a trigger for anyone else.

So how do we all navigate? I think certainly those still fighting should feel fine unfollowing and avoiding any triggers here. This space should be support and therapy- not pain. There is enough of that in the main stream world. I also think bloggers should always keep a sensitivity when blogging once pregnant. A simple trigger warning at the top is great or even a separate page for bump pics etc. Just my own perspective though. Curious to read what you all think and feel on this complicated topic.

Xoxo

Competitive

My competitive nature has been such a tough part of this IF/RPL road. I was the 2nd grader who had to come in first in every silly school track competition. I had to get the most votes in any contest. I wanted to win everything for as long as I can remember. I don’t know where it came from. Certainly not my parents who never cared about my grades or accolades, only if I was kind to others. Because of such a strong moral compass at home, my competitive nature never really got too out of hand and I knew that I had to hide it socially and manage it appropriately to avoid being obnoxious. Nobody wants to be around the kid that has to always win. I would line up to run the weekly mile in junior high casually joking and acting silly but my heart would be pounding in a deep desire to beat everyone and win. It was just part of my being.

It has served me well in so many areas. I excelled in school and sports and eventually my career with this deep desire to win. I was able to keep it from dominating and isolating others by minimizing on the outside what I so desired on the inside. To win. I learned to accept loss somewhat gracefully but only after training myself to over time.

Where it originally did not serve me well is this struggle to have a baby. When anyone around me got pregnant, it felt like a huge loss. I knew rationally that is not how it worked but I was so used to controlling my destiny and my future, the lack of control drove me crazy. I hated the feelings of jealousy and anger that coursed through me. I wanted to just feel grace and joy but didn’t know how to. That couple that got married after us and had a baby first made me want to hide in bed. I would obsessively check the FB feed of anyone married close to us to see how many were procreating and how far behind I was falling. I would think- ‘if only I can be pregnant before this event or this date or this person I would be ok’. It was ridiculous and painful and isolating and shameful.

Then I finally hit a lightbulb moment right before my miracle toddler’s successful IVF cycle. There was a couple in our social circle who announced their pregnancy and another couple who announced their second baby. A few days later we were expected at a Halloween party with all these people. My first instinct was to hide at home and burrow in my sorrow but was sick of doing that. I wanted my husband to have the wife he married not the shell I had become. I knew I couldn’t just ‘get over’ my desire and emotions so I tried a new tactic. I wanted to change my definition of ‘winning’ in this battle. Winning could not simply be having a baby because other than doing anything medically I could, that was out of my hands. I knew I needed a way to ‘win’ that was in my control. I wanted to be able to face this fight with grace and perspective and in a way I could be proud of. In a way my husband and sisters and Mom would admire.

To do this I needed to try to trick my brain into celebrating anything I could do because I wasn’t pregnant (run, drink etc) and also to change my internal dialogue. Every time my inner voice said ‘they have what you want and you will never have’ or ‘you are falling behind, your body is broken’ I would picture an eraser erasing those thoughts and saying ‘no one else is being given your own child. It is their journey. Keep moving forward and just control what you can’. I found a way to change my definition of winning from successfully having a baby to successfully managing the mental anguish of it. A win to me was if I could keep some semblance of joy and grace during the fight. 

So this method did not exactly work at first. There is no way to circumvent the pain and anguish. It ebbs and flows with some days better than others. But once I made those inner dialogue changes over and over and over I found they became reflexes, I found I could manage better overall. My inner voice wasn’t so ugly. The pain was still there. The twinges of jealousy still hit me but the complete dehabilitating pain ebbed. I felt less shame and less despair. My inner voice wasn’t yet another enemy making this hell even worse. I found ways to bounce back from a negative beta or an early loss. I would cry then regroup and go for a long run, open a bottle of wine, flirt with my husband and keep my hope alive. Let go of a timeline and just forge ahead. Now there were plenty of times where the wall of strength would crumble and I would just cry. Where I would inject myself with another dose of hormones and fight back the tears. When I would read a pregnancy announcement and feel a stab in my heart. But these times were blended with times of joy for the life I had, truly living in the moment and focusing on what I had not what I wanted. It made me feel powerful and it made me feel like another month that passed wasn’t all a waste. I was living too.

I read a blog post on here recently about being a victim. It was insightful and a new perspective on how society does not like victims and does not allow people to wallow or grieve when we should. She felt we should let people be victims and not expect them to stay positive or move on. I could totally see her point and appreciated the post. I just have always felt different in my own coping. If I stayed in that victim mentality for any amount of time it just sucked me in and made things worse. I needed a way of coping that made me feel powerful, in control, like I was ok. A way that made me feel like I was at least ‘winning’ a mental battle. A battle to stay positive and to act with grace and perspective.

So while my intense competitive nature made the start of this IF/ RPL road horrendous, it also helped me find a way to feel like I could ‘win’ along the way. I could win by finding a way to be ok. By finding a way to not simply waste away the days until this was over- as much as that is really all I wanted to do. 

After

After the very long road of failures and losses that got us here, I wanted to share a little bit about what it feels like when that battle, that fight, that hell, that worst day ever that seems to repeat over and over is finally over.

I don’t think this will be a triggering post. The way I see it- the fight and the hell has to end one day for everyone however it is resolved. It could look different than the ending you picture but this feeling of desperate hope and deep desire will be concluded at some point. You could end up with the elusive miracle pregnancy, choosing a third party path to a child or finding your way to happiness child free. No ‘happy ending’ is guaranteed of course but I am a very strong believer that we hold a tremendous amount of power when it comes to finding the good or finding your way to the good in most situations life hands you. Not necessarily during the fight. That is when just coping and getting by is all we can do sometimes. I am not saying one should just be happy and grateful with what is handed you (IF and RPL is UNFAIR and CRUEL) just saying we do have a lot of power over how we cope and move forward. That I do believe we can always find a way to seeing the good.

Anyway- back to my thoughts on life ‘after’ the fight is over. (I put this in parenthesis because going the alternative route of donor eggs we went I understand there may be future situations we face. It is a tad more complicated than a miracle ‘natural’ pregnancy although to be totally honest I have to remind myself of this because it feels like the least complicated and most right way it could have possibly been the moment I met her. ). So here I am, on the other side and wanted to share a few thoughts.

One: the very cliche statement of ‘it was all worth it’ is cliche because it is true. Mid battle and mid fight it feels like you are draining your life and energy (and money) away on this pursuit and it can be demoralizing. But the end goal is absolutely worth it for me personally. I don’t mean to say you should all keep on fighting and ‘not give up’ because that is so personal. IVF doesn’t always work, heck donor eggs don’t always work, money isn’t always available, your spirit isn’t always totally in it. How long and how you battle is totally up to you. Simply my personal opinion here is if you cannot envision a life without a child then be open to alternative paths. Just my own perspective. And think about being open to them along the way. 

That being said- it isn’t all roses and I can truly see how happiness can come in a child free/ less life. There are so many dimensions to each of us, to life. Having this  miracle did not suddenly make me happy. It did not completely fulfill me. It’s the truth. Don’t get me wrong- makes me cry in relief and gratitude all the time but it does not guarantee a happy life. I still need to know who I am, be a person in this world that I value. Navigate aging, the world around me, work; being a wife and a daughter and friend and all that goes with it. The parenting piece is just one piece of the puzzle. So if you get another negative test, wait anxiously another month without a match or are staring down the barrel of not being able to have your own child I wish you the ability to see enrichment in other areas. As someone with my own version of a ‘happy ending’ with IF/RPL I can tell you it doesn’t guarantee immediate happiness. Definite relief and joy but life is much more complex than that. I know a number of women struggling to conceive who were actually pretty depressed when it was resolved because it didn’t just hand them a happy life on a plate like they had hoped.  

I have found that you trade one worry/ obsession for another. During IVF/ RPL battles you just want a healthy child. You would give anything for those two lines, that healthy ultrasound, a good anatomy scan and then a safe delivery. Then once you have that the road keeps going. Let her be healthy at check up, keep her safe, navigating the fears of keeping this miracle that arrived. Let me be clear– it is WAY easier and more enjoyable and a trillion times better to navigate these fears, but just a reminder that fears and desperate hopes and struggles don’t just end. They evolve. Just something to remember and keep perspective on.

Finally- the gratitude and capacity for joy is immeasurable. The deep pits of despair and anger and anguish carved out this, at first tragic, but now beautiful well for the joy to fill. I would never wish our path on anyone but I do feel so thankful for this gift it has given me. 

Sending you all love. Xoxo

Details 

Hi there- I posted a seperate page with details about our miracle’s arrival. Please only read if it helps or inspires or benefits you. Otherwise- know I send my love to all of you today. This struggle is all so hard. It is all so unfair. If you are just somehow barely making it through yet another day on this IF/ RPL struggle than you are doing all you can. Xoxo

Safe arrival

I want to avoid any triggers on this space but just wanted to share baby arrived safely yesterday. Happy to share details if you want to email me at joahn23@gmail.com or I may make a separate page on this blog.

A few things that continue to be clear to me. Those of us that fight IF/RPL are the strongest women I know. While it prepares you for battles ahead and proves strength in character, I would not wish the need for it on anyone. So yes, we are strong but dammit we shouldn’t have to be battle tested over and over to show it. Two- I have no bitterness or regret in my heart. Only joy. After so many failures and losses this makes me abundantly proud and relieved. Sadness and anger are par for the course but the bitterness must be let go when possible. It weighs down the soul. Three– the detail of using donor eggs matter ZERO to me and our miracle baby. It only makes her that much more magical.

Sending you all love wherever you are in this fight today.

Xo