Donor thoughts

I sit here on this cozy Saturday somehow weeks into my third tri and feeling emotional/ nostalgic and grateful. For those of you contemplating, pursuing or in the middle of building your family with donor eggs, I wanted to share my current thoughts and feelings.

I usually forget this little one is made from donor eggs. I manage not to even think about it for days, even weeks and then I remember out of nowhere. My immediate emotion is relief and love. Relief that I was able to end this hell of an IF/RPL ride because another woman gave me a path out. Love for her (even though it is anonymous). Love for the gift she has given us and love for this miracle that we fought to make. I am yet to feel sadness or wistfulness thinking about the loss of my own eggs. Instead I feel more confident that I am creating a little human with young and healthy eggs. So many times my own eggs failed me and I am so glad to have those days of worry and guilt and irrational self disappointment behind me. It’s so strange. I have read about so many other emotions and was prepared for them. I have none of them so far. Instead I just feel such love for everyone that created this miracle and deep content and happiness.

I took out her profile this morning. I haven’t looked at it since before we found out we were ‘P’. While it is anonymous ( no name etc) I loved looking at her beautiful and happy smiling face and reading over again who she is through her questions and history. I used to think I just wanted the eggs and then to move on but now I feel like if our child wants to learn more about her one day, so do I. Just simply to give her a hug and tell her we love her.

Sometimes I dare dream about life on the other side (as Infertility and loss warriors we are trained to prepare for the worst not daydream about the good). It fills me with something near euphoria. I imagine being able to drink actual caffeine again instead of herbal tea. I dream about running miles without worrying about hurting my ovaries or hormones. I dream about a glass of whiskey (have not had anything stronger than an occasional glass of wine after a loss in over 4 years). Heck, maybe even two glasses and a nice buzz in front of a fire snuggling with my husband. I dream about a life without a doctor appointment every week, many times every other day. A life where I don’t walk away subconsciously praying for a good outcome or good news or another milestone or for this hell to be over. A life where money is spent on the now, not on a mostly fruitless desperate hope for the future. A life where my hormone levels are in the normal range and I can watch a commercial without crying.

I think about how all of that might be possible because a lovely young lady gave us this gift. I think about the large sum of money we paid and feel happy that it hopefully paid her school loans or made her life a bit easier. I look at our 4D ultrasound picture and stare lovingly at this miracle’s face. Eager to see who she is. My husband and I were giggling the other night imagining our amusement when well meaning folks claim she has ‘my nose’ or ‘my smile’. It just makes us laugh imagining it. While we will be open with her and family and close friends about donor eggs, it is not something we feel we need everyone and even strangers to know. That is her information to share openly as she sees fit.

I am aware there may be ups and downs in the future but for this moment in time, I just feel peace and happiness that this is where our path has led. Love to all of you wherever you may be on this road.

Xo

Grappling with Fairness

I am not sure if I follow a certain sample of women or if the blogs I follow are representative but I have been mentally struggling lately with the unfairness of how Infertility/ RPL and even late pregnancy struggles are. It seems like women who struggle so hard to get pregnant, then have losses and even later pregnancy complications. It really doesn’t seem like someone should have to endure one, let alone two or even three of those issues.

It feels like nature is punishing some women-and those women are so deserving of joy and ease. I know we all think about those drug addicted mother’s of four young kids, or abusive Moms or young teen moms and just wonder how it is fair they procreate with no issues. It is pretty clear that fertility is not doled out based on who deserves it. So that being said, I struggle with the why and who. I think this internal struggle would be easier if I had the unwavering faith some have. The belief that God ordains it all and has a plan. While I certainly believe in a higher power, I am not quite sold that this higher power determines each individual hardship as part of a plan. That just doesn’t ring absolute truth to me. It feels a bit more random than that.

So as my mind wanders to the why and who, I veer it back to what really matters and is understandable to me- the ‘then what’. So bad things happen to good people. They just do. It is what we do next that matters. How do we cope, how to we move on, how to we not let it make us bitter, how do we turn it into a lesson, a way to feel gratitude for the good?

We cannot control what is not in our control (duh). So we control what we can. Our attitude, our minds, our ability to persevere, how we deepen our compassion and open up our hearts. When I get sad or mad about what some beautiful and lovely women have had to endure, I remind myself that while I have had plenty of suffering, I never felt victimized. I very rarely asked why me but rather, ok now what? Where do we go from here. How do I make this ok? It is that ability, that vital skill I have had to hone that reminds me good can come from bad. Not in the moment, often not even in the following months but eventually it can come.

The most trite statement is ‘life is short’. But it’s true. It’s finite. It is a compilation of the now, of the present moment. Not anticipation of tomorrow’s. If something is able to bring you the ability to appreciate more present moments, to look for joy when it is hidden, then that is ultimately a life gift. After the initial rehabilitating despair and grief that follows a miscarriage comes that light that shines through unexpectedly. Facing that tragic death highlights the life that surrounds us. The world seems raw and the sun on your face feels like a new start shining down, the grass looks greener, husband’s hugs feel more comforting and hope for the future seems precarious but profound and precious. I imagine life after accepting kids are not an option is often like this. Hard and raw but filled with hidden bursts of unexpected light. Light that may have not previously made its way through.

I guess my point of this post is to share how I personally grapple and tackle the unfairness of IF/ RPL. Lots of love to all of you in the many phases this path takes. Xo

on this day

On this ‘holiday’ morning I wake up and immediately am blasted with everything M’s Day. It is overwhelming and I am not even in a hard position in my IF battle. Everywhere I look/ read and go I hear the cheerful M day greetings and messages.

While the sentiment is absolutely lovely and coming from a positive place, I cringe at how rampant it is. For as much joy as this ‘holiday’ brings I know it brings so much pain too. Pain to women who long to be a Mother, who have lost a pregnancy or a child, those moving on from the dream of being a Mom and to millions of those who who mourn a lost Mother. It breaks my heart to think of how much pain this day brings.

I hope those of you in pain take today to let yourself grieve, or to distract or simply just to get by. I am going to treat today as a day of reflection on what society makes ‘motherhood’ to be. I will be keeping those women who desire the title so desperately in my thoughts. I will be holding those grieving a loved one close. I know there are so many kinds of Moms out there- foster, god parents, attentive aunts, teachers, caretakers and many more. I think of you today. Even if you aren’t celebrated loudly, please know I celebrate you.

Xoxo

Moments vs Memories

**trigger warning. This post is about parenting after IF/ RPL. Please skip it if you are not in a place where this type of post would speak to you or make you feel good. I don’t usually write about these topics but want to share with other readers in my similar situation*****

 

I just went into a wormhole of the internet following a blog post about parenting after IF. It eventually led to me a post that was in response to an article/ study in the New York Times about parents that love their kids but hate parenting. It was basically talking about how the stress, mundane days, lack of gratitude and grind made parents a lot less ‘happy’ overall than those who don’t have kids.

I can totally understand the monotony and stress of parenting as a Stay at Home Mom with a crazy active toddler and increasing debt from our pursuit of another one and trying to make money through online businesses. It’s not like tantrums, sleep training, the same routine over and over is glamorous. But I totally cannot relate to not liking parenting. It got me thinking about why.

I certainly know people who adore their kids but don’t seem to enjoy parenting a whole bunch. Meaning they long for days of sleeping in, going out whenever they want and not having to cater to demanding young kids and all their needs. They seem constantly exhausted and just waiting for the next reprieve or vacation or break from parenting.

My husband and I have not been on a vacation in years. We rarely have a babysitter unless it is a big event and our lives move around the needs of our son. He is active and a little bit of a tough (but crazy lovable) toddler but we don’t wish for breaks often. If we could go on vacation we would want to bring him. We are both super social and enjoy and love our friends but almost always choose family time when given a choice between the two.

So why do we feel differently? I think a big part of it is the Infertility. For a long time we wondered if we would ever get to be parents. We tried so hard to have this privilege which puts it all into perspective. The middle of the night baby cries gave me the first instinct of relief and joy that I even have a baby that it muted the groan of tiredness that followed. Working through a toddler meltdown feels like a luxury compared to navigating my own post IVF cycle failure meltdown. It just changes your perspective and makes the mundane more like a gift. Doesn’t mean you love it all but it does mean you appreciate so much of it which leads to enjoyment.

This article also talks about parents not enjoying the moment but looking back on it with nostalgia and fulfillment. For example, they hate the monotony of toddler years but after they pass talk and think about them fondly and wistfully. I get that. Its easy to do.

But I remember so clearly one day when my son was two weeks old and I took him to the back room to nurse. I heard loud and fun laughter coming from the main room and felt hurried to have him finish so I could join the group. In that moment I caught myself. I saw so clearly how life is too often just hurrying yourself to get to the next moment, milestone and activity. I looked down at my miracle and stroked his cheek, closed my eyes and soaked up the moment. I have done this over and over and over these past 3 years. Not always. I slip up plenty often. But I have so many moments of soaking it up that when people say ‘can you believe he is 3 already!?’ I simply think happily that yes I can. That I feel like I have a good three years of memories and joy.

So I suppose this rambling post is meant to be a few things. One- get you thinking about how you can live in the moment and not just create memories. Two- remind you that IF/ RPL may have changed us but it also gave us the gift of perspective and Three- get you thinking about how to enjoy being a parent, not just love your kids.

Xoxo

Another day

I know the often dreaded Mother’s Day is coming up next weekend and the day still gives me anxiety and negative feelings. Don’t get me wrong- I am so lucky to have my Mother still with me and always call her and send a card. I don’t however- celebrate it for myself. My husband respects this and we call our Moms, feel grateful for what we have and spend the day like any other family day.

I imagine this might sound weird for someone like me who has suffered and spent my way into debt for the privilege of the Mom title. Perhaps I should soak up the day and revel in my fortune. Instead-I hope for this day that can trigger so much hurt for those who have lost a mother, are waiting to be a mother or had to move on from the dream of being a Mom to pass quickly.

I have found it a tremendous gift and honor to claim the title of Mom and I do not need society further pressing the sentiment that women are valued the most as a Mom. It’s not fair. Women are professionals, they are sisters, daughters, thought leaders, activists, runners, fashionistas, athletes, care takers, avid readers, talented writers, scientists, leaders, and so so much more. There is already enough pressure on women to ‘get married and be a mother’ in order to feel worth, I do not enjoy a day that further highlights this stigma.

If we are going to have something like a Mother’s Day I think we need to change it to Caretaker’s Day and use it to celebrate those in your life who have cared for and nurtured you along the way. Aunts that have been like a second Mom, live-in nurses that care for the elderly, single parents raising kids, nurses and teachers and anyone in the service industry that has cared for you or loved ones. This to me would enrich the day so much more. The idea of celebrating someone who gives themselves selflessly to the lives of others is beautiful- but let’s broaden the definition and scope.

Let me end this post by saying this is just my opinion. I can’t claim it as truth. I respect others who make this day important and find value in it. I understand there are so many great intentions and sentiments on this day. It is simply my personal opinion. I will readily celebrate my own Mom but just choose this to be another day for me. I have all the blessings and joy I could ask for- I don’t feel a need to highlight it commercially. But that is just my personal choice. It’s just the emotions I feel around this day. I do not think any negative thoughts of those women who fought so hard to be a Mom and enjoy the day to celebrate it. I get it.

Lots of love to those of you who will have to endure the pain Mother’s Day brings. Xo

 

***Edited to add: in response to a comment I just want to add we don’t really celebrate Father’s Day as well. Or Valentines Day either. It’s not that we are anti- holiday ( as a mixed christian(ish) and Jewish household we celebrate everything from Hanukkah to Christmas to Easter to Passover). It’s more the Hallmark Holidays that we tend to avoid. Also- I appreciate you taking this all with a grain of salt and not passing judgement. It’s just what works for us 🙂

Over sharing

I have found that since becoming ‘P’ I have shared the struggle it took to get here even more than before. When women welcome me into the world of a normal ‘P’ person I feel the need to adamantly declare that I barely made it here. My response to the cashier who just offered a simple congratulations was “thank you- it took years and so many rounds of treatment to get here”. To my son’s teacher I respond even a bit further and say “I am so grateful I was able to pursue and find success with donor eggs.”

I just find that I have this pressing desire to make sure others know it isn’t always easy. I want them to be aware of how hard conception is for so many. I want the ladies behind me in the checkout stand to hear my quick story in case they too are struggling. I want his teacher to see the face of a woman using donor eggs to bring real ness and awareness to the struggle in case someone she knows may be facing it.

I am sure my husband understandably finds it a bit weird when I over share to a stranger but he would never say anything or insist I be more discreet. He knows my passion for bringing awareness and empathy. He knows I feel intense gratitude and maybe a bit of guilt about why I have had this fortune. My story to fertiles probably sounds like a nightmare ( 10 plus IVF rounds, miscarriages, surgery, donor eggs) but to others struggling to conceive I am the lucky one. In my head and heart- I am the lucky one.

In the era of glossy social media, filters on pictures, fashion and lifestyle and mommy bloggers who paint this image of what life should be, of what happiness looks like, of what success and beauty and a good life should be- I want to offer up a messy and dirty and real version of that ‘happy ending’. I would never want someone to look at my life and think ‘wow she has it so great’ and have that make them feel less about their own life. I would much prefer they say ‘well life has been a bit messy and unconventional but she is making it work’. I would even rather them say ‘thank goodness that isn’t me’ as I know some of my fertile friends say to themselves. If my own life can make others feel inspired or even better about theirs that to me is so much better than anyone ever seeing me as a glossy mom picture and coveting what I have. I can’t imagine why some work hard to make other’s jealous of them. Why would you want to cause other people that pain? It does nothing to enrich your life and only harms theirs.

After all- as my own mother would remind us over and over and over growing up ‘people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel’. A Maya Angelou quote that we had on our fridge. In this short and fleeting and unpredictable life- I can only hope that my existence has made those around me feel good about their own.

So-that is why I over share. I do it in hopes it randomly reaches someone quietly struggling. I do it in hopes it removes the illusion of my ‘perfect life’ happily married with a toddler and baby on the way. I do it because if making strangers or friends a bit uncomfortable in the moment means they are more empathetic and thoughtful in further moments than it is worth it.

Xoxo

On the mend and musings

Thank you all for your support earlier this week. It was a rough patch that is thankfully better now. Going to my doctor and sharing my worries with you and loved ones helped. Thank you so much.

I have also thought a lot about the privilege of being where I am, as well as the different paths those of us in this community end up taking. I wanted to share a few thoughts.

One– even when things are a bit (or even a lot) mentally rough and scary– I will not and cannot lose sight of my fortune to be carrying this miracle. It is a gift given to me, not a right earned and I will always treat it as such. I cannot relate to other ‘P’ women who think they are accomplishing something amazing. They like to moan and groan about how hard it is on their body and how they are accomplishing a great feat. Maybe a bit true- but to me it is not a personal accomplishment. Rather, I feel as though I was randomly gifted something to humbly treasure through the good and bad.

I have also had a number of conversations with some of my best friends who have chosen or been handed a child free life. As hard as I have fought to have children, I weirdly can understand how life can be just as good (maybe in some cases better), albeit look differently than mine. I hear the stories of personal goals, passions, travel, even mundane gardening. I see how they carry the torch of their own fulfillment and carry it well. I also see other Mom friends struggling in comparison. Struggling to find an identity, to find joy in their everyday life. It brings to light how different each of our paths are and how much power we have mentally to control our fortune and happiness. It reminds me that life shouldn’t look the same for everyone: college–marriage–kids–retirement. In fact, so many follow that path because it is what society drills into you. My own struggle has made me see that as hard as I have fought to follow some kind of semblance of this, adhering to it is not where I have been given my greatest joy.

My point here is that, I hope to not get caught up in my timeline and expected plans all along the way. I must admit it has driven me a lot In life. I just wanted to be ‘normal’ and follow the steps people around me seemed to do so easily. I am going to try to let that go a bit. To look around me where I am at and find what is good and right, instead of always looking ahead.

Now this is a lot easier to say for me than for someone still waiting in the trenches for that one break, that light to emerge, the carousel of purgatory and waiting to end. I get that because I have been there over and over and over. I don’t pretend to share platitudes or wisdoms of ‘just enjoy the moment’ or ‘it will happen’ etc. I simply just share than I have noticed happiness and joy looks a lot different than we initially expect. So let’s make sure we are not missing it along the way.

xoxoxo

PTSD is back

And just like that- the PTSD rears its head again. I was doing so well. I passed the elusive 24 week mark and even shared a picture to social media where I look P (not a cute announcement or anything but just a soft share so we don’t all of a sudden have a baby out of nowhere to friends that we haven’t told). I had a great weekend with my family and have been able to train my brain almost like a fertile to ease away the fear and just live in the moment.

Then last night I had pulsing and minor aching near my hips and lower abdomen ( rationally I know it is round ligament pain) but my head just went into a tailspin. The fears came rushing back and the realization that there is no guarantee here was front and center.

Today the ache is still there, however slight and I am a mess. I don’t really want to clue in my husband because he has been such a saint and I don’t want to make him be a part of this fear. I just want to hibernate for the rest of this ‘P’ and have time fly. I know my PTSD is excacerbated by the fact that my twin sis entered the hospital with pre-eclampsia at this stage and was in there miraculously on bed rest for three months until her twins were born. But it was a scary and awful three months. That makes me extra anxious and worried with every twinge I feel.

I know how lucky I am to be in this moment. For this to be my current fear but it is still pretty scary and awful. I am just breathing, distracting and hoping time goes by fast.

 

xoxo

On ‘giving up’

When IF/ RPL bloggers fall pregnant some seem to suffer amnesia and forget about all the triggers and platitudes and comments they have had to suffer through. While this could be a post on its own- I wanted to share my thoughts on one in particular. The ‘don’t give up’ comment.

This is coming from a great place. Someone who has suffered through so much only to finally see it all be worth it probably feels so grateful they didn’t give up before this miracle arrived. They probably want to be inspiration and testimony for others in the middle of the struggle. That is lovely and very understandable. But what they forgot, or don’t realize, is the damage and hurt it can cause.

You see- most likely someone who has battled years and years and years of ‘never giving up’ who has spent tens of thousands of dollars, suffered too many heartbreaks to count, struggled in relationships and daily life and has seen so much time pass them by and life move on ahead without them is reading your ‘advice’. They may be someone who has spent half a decade or a decade on this fight and is nearing the end of their ability to keep fighting. They might be out of money, out of stamina and out of the will to keep living the hell that is IF/RPL. And that’s ok. Not everyone has the typical ‘happy ending’. This person could be looking down the barrel of too much money and time and no guarantees and needs to move on. Having someone tell them ‘don’t give up’ makes them feel like if they have to stop the fight it means they ‘gave up’ and are to blame for the lack of success. It means they should have kept going when maybe it is time to stop. These words might add tremendous guilt and heartache to someone coming to terms with a new chapter starting in their life. They may have made a decision to live their life again on their terms. These words disrupt that and invalidate it.

This may sound strange coming from someone who ‘didn’t give up’. Meaning I went into debt north of 100k and suffered 10 IVF failures and 3 losses before being currently ‘P’ with my miracle donor sibling. But all this was my choice. My husband and I decided together on what we would pursue and do for another child. We were lucky that it eventually happened even if we had to use an alternative donor egg route. That was our decision and our choice. We won’t be buying a home anytime soon (if ever), we struggle with our debt, don’t take vacations and goodness knows where college funds are coming from. But it was right for us. We also ‘only’ had to suffer through all this hell for 3 years. Who knows where I would be at if it was year 5 or 7 or 10.

I won’t ever tell someone ‘don’t give up’. I would say ‘I am glad I kept fighting’ or ‘I hope your miracle is up ahead’ or even ‘I wish you peace in whatever step you decide to take next’. Because sometimes it is not about ‘giving up’ but rather choosing to live again or to live a different life that you finally control.

Just my two cents :). Xo

Lately

The sickness is now mostly gone and in its place sits deep hope for what is to come. I find myself marveling that this day is actually here. That I am actually over halfway there ‘p’ with a miracle. If I let it my mind will spiral to fear. Fear that it is all too good and something will happen. But I don’t let it. I pretend I am a naive fertile and I simply embrace hope. It is naturally a tad bit muted because I know too much but I refuse to allow fear to actually beat the joy.

Running around after my now 3 year old miracle IVF son keeps me preoccupied a lot. I dreamt of being able to say that. The fortune of it is not lost on me. I have found I am a much better and present Mom now than during the last two years of Infertility and miscarriage hell. I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise but I didn’t realize how often I was just getting by or holding it together. Even tired and sick, I am more present than sad and scared. This could make me sad but I choose to have it make me extra grateful it is not my current situation. I am also proud that my son is happy and carefree and seems to have gotten through it just fine. My promise to myself was I would stop pursuing treatments if I felt like my son was suffering and it seems like I was able to protect him pretty well.

When I feel her move I feel like weeping. Weeping with joy for what is happening. Weeping for the past few years and the losses. Weeping for the many many women just yearning to feel it. Why this road is so cruel to so many I will never know. I hope to do my part to ease the burden and provide hope in any way I find. My dream is to start an IVF non profit funding program to help those who can’t afford IVF. The pain of an IVF cycle failure is crippling but life without the ability or hope of pursuing IVF must be a special kind of agony.

I might be missing something here but the fact that this baby came from a donor egg rarely enters my mind. When it does I greet it with a smile and a little bit of awe that I have been given this gift. This baby will know that another lovely lady made creating her possible and we will deal with any emotions this may bring her along the way but I am pretty confident I will just continue to feel nothing but thankful. I feel lucky to parent a child seperate from my genetics and be able to see her as wholly herself.

I am just thankful every minute of every day for this gift. Lots of love to all of you in your many phases of this ride. I hope you are able to find your way through the hard and the ability to savor the good. Xo