Announcing

I thought about my role and willingness to share on social media a lot. Lord knows we all see enough ‘P’ announcements on social media to get us thinking about it. I still see them and feel that familiar jealous twinge.

Well miraculously I am in that position and have decided not to post anything. I have experienced that feeling of scrolling through another cute announcement over and over, your heart sinking. Depending on the mood I am in, I either feel an instinctual tinge of jealousy that I can shrug off after a bit or it leaves me stricken with loss and fear and sorrow. Either way- if I am being totally honest, I never leave a ‘P’ announcement post feeling anything but worse. So why would I potentially do that to someone else? Sure I know most would be happy for me especially given our struggles but if I can avoid giving even one person struggling that feeling in the pit of their stomach than it is better than the fleeting satisfaction or happiness I may get from a lot of likes on my fortunate news. Plus- anyone who is really close to me or really would want to know does.

Now don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t judges others that do. It is a natural and probably exciting milestone. Especially for those in this community who have just been waiting and waiting for it to be their turn.

To me, growing this little miracle is a privilege and an honor I hold sacred. It is not a personal accomplishment to share or boast but a gift I have been given. So no announcemt post from me. Lots of love and light and luck to you all.

 

When the road blurs

It’s all still so unreal to me that I am here, actually ‘P’ with a miracle so many years and failures and losses later. It doesn’t feel like unbridled joy or elation. It just feels like deep gratitude and relief to my core every day that passes.

We had our anatomy ultrasound this morning and I laid there, eyes closed, body tense trying to just breath and have faith while the technician moved the wand around and walked us through everything. Although we genetically tested the embryo, did all the first tri- screening, and even used a donor egg I was nervous. When you get handed so much bad news over and over, you are consistently braced for it. I know I don’t have to tell you all that.

But, miraculously it was all ok and baby girl(!!) is growing healthy. I just don’t know what I did to deserve such fortune right now. People may see a ‘poor infertile lady who suffered 10 IVf failures and three losses and is now carrying a baby from another woman’s egg’. I just feel like the luckiest woman on earth. The road here feels like it all fades away. The fears are etched in the form of hidden worries, the pain is carved in the form of deeper empathy and the naive joy is masked by past reality. But yet the road behind me feels like a blur. Like a faded dirt road full of curves and dips that just simply got me to today. This moment of hope and gratitude.

Ebbs and Flows

I am predisposed to find the silver lining and fight my way to my natural state of happy. In turn I tend to try to get those around me to as well. I offer up a solution or idea with encouragement when someone needs to vent. But the truth is there isn’t always a solution. Sometimes things are just tough and all we can do is go through it. We can’t short cut it, ignore it or avoid it. We just have to put on boots, hold tight to those close and wade through it.

There are parts of Infertility/ RPL that are like this. Right after a loss, during a delay, when a milestone is looming or when other pregnancy announcements hit you like a truck. There is no easy way to face it all. Sure we can have coping mechanisms or distractions or remedies in the form of alcohol but it is still going to hurt.

But that’s ok. The only real truth about all this is nothing can last forever. It can feel and seem like forever. It can last way longer than we hoped or thought but not forever. Things change. Miracles happen. We change. New plans are formed. The future will play out eventually.

If you are going through a particularly bad time I hope you just give yourself a break and remember it is ok that it’s not ok right now. But also remember that eventually it all changes. With the ebbs and flow of life, chances are things will feel and seem better soon. Hang in there.

Xo

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.

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