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

 

 

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