The summer of us.

Last week Dan and I went to see our fertility specialist for my endometrial biopsy, is was the last box we needed to check on the list of ‘possible reasons the miscarriage happened’. It was a surprisingly long list, but in the end the embryo was healthy, I’m healthy, Dan is healthy…we’re just not having that baby. It was a long list…that left us knowing a lot of things that did NOT cause the miscarriage, but none that did. I’ve said it before (and I’ll say it again)…there are always a lot of questions, but there are never enough answers. (That should be what they say when you go to the IVF seminars).

But anyway, last box checked. So our fertility doctor takes us into another room and starts talking about what he will do differently next IVF cycle, the changes he wants to make to my hormones, he uses the phrase “a more aggressive plan” a few times and I start to feel anxious and then he announces “If you want, I think July 5th could be a good start date.” Dan and I lock eyes, but don’t say anything. We tell our doctor we’ll call in the next few days we just need to figure some things out and we walk out feeling overwhelmed (another thing they should tell you at the IVF seminar: overwhelmed is a very common emotion to feel when exiting your fertility center). Dan looks at me as we pull out of the parking lot “July 5th is two weeks away…that really takes away from the ‘Summer of Us’.”

The ‘Summer of Us’ was something Dan and I imagined to help us cope following the miscarriage. We started listing all the things we could do now that I was not pregnant (this involved alcohol, late nights, seafood and vacations) and we planned to really enjoy them, not fall into the trap of last summer when we just kept imagining how different everything we were doing would be with a child. We both recognized we had spent the last year of our life consumed with infertility and that led to a lot of sadness and disappointment…we both agreed a few months just being a couple in love was healthy. (Full disclosure: we’re also moving this summer, so it wasn’t all free-spirited, we do have to ‘adult’ too.) But now our doctor had thrown a wrench into the plan, a wrench in the form of hormones, blood tests, ultrasounds and a very healthy lifestyles goodbye wine, goodbye raw oysters, goodbye late nights and impromptu weekends to the Cape…

Now, I need to say something here… I imagine there might be a few people reading this thinking “this chick complains about not having a baby and then whines someone is going to take away her booze and food” (Yes, I assume people who judge me for my blog use the term ‘chick’)  that is not what I’m saying. I’ll make the sacrifices, heck I’ve already made so many, in order to have a baby… I’d give up just about anything in my life if someone said it would help me conceive…What I’m trying to say is Dan and I worked really hard for our warrior embryo and then we lost our warrior and I became very sad and very tired and very disappointed. And you cannot enter into fertility treatments sad, tired and disappointed… I need time to recover, I need to find ways to be happy again, I need to read a trashy novel on the beach with my husband sitting next to me, I need to heal… When Dan and I were discussing the Pros and Cons of starting treatments in July or waiting until September/October like we previously planned I heard myself say ‘I mean a pro is I could be pregnant with baby #2 before baby #1’s due date…” and I realized what I really needed was time. (Because listing your possible babies is not, in my opinion, a healthy way to approach this.)

I need the ‘Summer of Us’. Which is basically what I told Marsha (my favorite nurse) the following day when she called to say our physician had finalized our treatment schedule. I thanked them for being so proactive, but we chose “us” for a little while. I’m going to work extra shifts at the hospital, we’re going to move into a new place, we’re going to see Billy Joel in concert, visit some vineyards, and travel to Florida to see our nephew (who should be making his world debut any day now!) We’re going to enjoy life and each other for a little while. I also started a new supplement, am considering acupuncture and am focusing on getting myself healthy for our second round (life cannot be completely infertility free!) A small part of me wishes we had just started this summer because I want so badly to be a mom, but I know that is not the best decision for Dan, myself or (God-willing) our future children. That’s another thing they should tell you at IVF seminar… regardless of how badly you want a child…making said child is going to take a lot out of you, you’re going to make a lot of sacrifices and, although I’ve never had a child I did watch my parents make countless sacrifices for my siblings and I over the years, so I am comfortable saying you’re going to continue to make sacrifices…take the time to be selfish now, be in the best mindset before you start, accept that sometimes the best thing you can do in this crazy infertility journey is to not do anything at all.

WordsWednesday

 

“Letting go is such a difficult thing to understand. Trying to let go is like trying to not think about something, you’re just going to think about it even more. I think letting go is less of an ending of one thing and more of an acceptance of everything. It’s okay that this is the way it is right now. There’s no other way it’s supposed to be.” –E. Allen

Another childless Father’s Day…

Tomorrow my handsome husband starts a new job…now my husband didn’t necessarily want a new job, he was comfortable in the job he had, but we want a baby…and our insurance plan wasn’t going to cover our second round of IVF…so Dan went and got himself a new job…with better insurance. These are the things you find yourself doing when you find yourself childless and wishing you weren’t.

So I dubbed this weekend “The weekend of Dan”. On Friday, when Dan came home from his last day at his old job I was waiting in the kitchen with balloons, a cake and a bottle of champagne. On Saturday night we splurged on an expensive dinner and celebrated. Today the plan was I was going to do laundry while Dan golfed with one of his friends…the weekend of Dan was going perfectly. Until this morning when he sat down on the bed next to me and said “I’m kind of sad…” I blame it on the fact that I had just woken up and I drank too much wine yesterday at said expensive dinner, but I was confused…what did he have to be sad about? He continued “…you know, because it’s Father’s Day and I’m not…like…a father…”

If there was an award for most inconsiderate infertile wife I think I win today…see I was ready to celebrate my own father today (which I will because my dad is one of the greatest humans who has ever walked this earth…) but I completely forgot about what this day must feel like for my husband…which is pretty selfish because I struggled so much on Mother’s Day I couldn’t even write a post about it.

I struggled to comfort my husband…hours later as I sit here typing I’m still struggling to know what to say. Infertility is a shared experience, but for some reason it seems to belong to women more than men. As much as Dan and I have shared this experience over the past two years it has always been more about me than him…but not today. Today is Father’s Day and my husband is struggling…so this post is for him…(it’s everything I wish I had said this morning….)

To my childless husband on Father’s day,

 Today is Father’s Day…for the past few weeks you’ve been bombarded with commercials advertising adorable children bringing smiling father’s breakfast in bed, you’ve walked through the aisle at the grocery store decked out with blue streamers and signs reminding everyone who can read “DON’T FORGET DAD!”, your social media feeds are filled with smiling former class mates and current co-workers showing off handmade cards and gifts. It seems really great to be a father…only you don’t know what it’s like to be a father…

But you know a lot of other things. You know that if you get a text from me during the day that reads ‘not this month’ I’m going to take an extra-long shower after work and when I emerge from the bathroom red-eyed you know exactly how long to hug me, but we won’t ever talk about it. You know to be ready 15 minutes earlier than you have to be when we have an appointment with our fertility specialist, even though we’ll sit in the waiting room for 30 minutes, because I’m always stressed about getting there late. You know where to give a Progesterone injection, that Lupron makes me (extra) sarcastic and Follistim gives me insomnia. You know retrieval day is easy because I’m medicated and transfer day is difficult because I’m not (and my bladder is full). You know I hate exam room 7 at the doctors because that’s the room they told us they couldn’t find our babies heartbeat. You know the top drawer in our dresser is empty (even though we are short on storage) except for the Peyton Manning jersey my mother gave us for our warrior embryo who will never get to wear it. You know to answer quickly when someone asks at a party why we don’t have kids and you know to change the channel when a Clear Blue commercial comes on. There are a million more things you know that I wish you didn’t…but you do. And so I want to tell you a few things I know (that you may not).  

I want you to know it is okay that you felt sad today, it’s okay if you feel sad every single day…life is hard. You deserve a lot better than the hand we’ve been dealt and I hope you know it’s entirely acceptable to curse every single one of those smiling dads in those stupid Father’s Day commercials. I want you to know that it’s okay to tell people we are struggling…you do not have to be the strong person all the time. I want you to know I appreciate every vase of flowers you have left on the counter, every meal you have cooked and every espresso you have made. I want to thank you for allowing me to cry for three hours straight and never once leaving the room. I want to thank you for setting up Hulu in our bedroom so I could watch The Mindy Project and agreeing to watch Lifetime with me on Saturday nights. I want you to know I have never once felt like I was in this mess alone and for that I cannot ever thank you enough. I want you to know that even though I have moments where I yell and curse your name (mainly because you ALWAYS leave dirty dishes in the sink and can’t ever seem to get your dirty clothes in the laundry basket) I wouldn’t want to go through this journey with anyone else. I want you to know you have surprised me over the past two years with your patience, kindness and love and that every day when I count my blessings I always count you first. I want you to know someday we will have a daughter who dates good men and a son who treats women right because they will have you as an example. I want you to know it breaks my heart you are not a father on this Father’s Day…I will never understand why our life has to be like this, but I want you to know you are the reason I am willing to go through everything again… because the dream of having a child who is 50% you is enough for me to continue to live through this nightmare.

And remember tomorrow you’re starting a new job to support our dream of having a family. You are already making sacrifices for our children and they do not even exist yet. I think you’ve already proven yourself to be a really amazing father…

And for that you deserve to be wished the happiest of Father’s Day.

And to all the other men who dream of being called “dad” I am sorry you have to spend even one Father’s Day not being someone’s father. You deserve to be celebrated today…and I pray someday you will be. May you future be filled with handmade cards and mugs that read “#1 Dad”.

There was a baby…

I have a confession… I’m still signed up for daily ‘alerts’ from What to Expect When You’re Expecting. See, when we found out our transfer had been successful and we were pregnant I became a little overzealous. (You know how people describe bridezilla? I was like momzilla… our tiny little warrior embryo was now a baby and I was obsessed!) I immediately went back to my secret Pinterest board and started pinning nursery ideas. I started shopping for maternity clothes online (It was March…I was due in November…I reasoned I could get winter maternity clothes on sale!) Dan and I spent a day stopping in tiny vintage shops looking for furniture for the nursery. My older sister and I planned the holidays…we would both have babies at Christmas, her family would come to Connecticut from Florida to celebrate, it was going to be perfect! And I registered my due date on What to Expect When You’re Expecting and happily started getting daily alerts sent to my email…

But, now I am not expecting. I haven’t been on Pinterest in a month. There are no maternity clothes to hang in the closet (next to that damn Gold Dress), there are no cribs to buy or antique dressers to refurnish into changing tables. There are no holiday plans for adorable cousins in matching Christmas pajamas.

But, there is still my daily email. I now know 15 sweet Scottish names, the best morning sickness remedies and different ways to exercise during pregnancy. I was alerted when I passed (or should have passed) the 12 week mark and I know a 14 week fetus is the size of a lemon (a very cheerful comparison I think!) You may think it’s strange I keep these alerts coming, but the reason is pretty simple (and it’s not that I enjoy torturing myself) it’s because I find comfort in the reminder that I was pregnant.

The sad truth is, it’s easy to forget I was ever pregnant. The pregnancy seems like a tiny dip on the rollercoaster ride of the past 2 years. So much time and energy went into wanting to be pregnant…and then more time and energy went into becoming pregnant…and now even more time and energy is being devoted to trying to determine why I could not stay pregnant…but the being pregnant part, it was short lived and (I fear) underappreciated.

Very few people celebrated our pregnancy with us, the majority of people in our life discovered we were pregnant after the miscarriage, so there was no celebrating. I didn’t announce my pregnancy on this blog. All told, maybe 10 people knew I was pregnant when I was pregnant. So it’s easy for people to forget there was a baby…most people just remember that there isn’t. You may think those are the same thing, but there is a BIG difference between the absence of a baby and the loss of a baby…trust me, I’ve lived through both.

My body has forgotten there was a baby. My nails stopped growing and my bras fit again. My hormones are back to normal. Sometimes even I have to remind myself… I lie in bed awake at night and softly repeat “there was a baby…there was a baby…there was a baby…”

But those emails remember. Those daily alerts remind me that yes, I was really, most sincerely pregnant. On a bad day, when I’m particularly sad or angry, those e-mails remind me…this isn’t just hormones and infertility, I’m not this upset because my assignment at work is busy and one patient’s family is rude…I’m not just tired and hungry… I’m grieving…I’m grieving a loss. A loss that most people in my life do not know about, a loss that those who do know do not know how to handle, a loss that is not easily spoken about…a loss sometimes I have to remind myself is real. I keep those email alerts because they’re the only constant thing I have in my life that remembers there was a baby…and, I like to think I’m learning a lot from them…you know for someday in the future…when there is a baby.

WordsWednesday

 

“There will come a time in your life when you lose something that matters to you. You’ll fight for it and you won’t win. But what really matters isn’t the war you’re waging, it’s that you don’t lose the person you are in the midst of the battle.” –J. Sterling

Why still being a party of 2 is enough…

I’ve had a bit of writers block lately… I have a lot of things I want to write about, but when I sit down I just find myself writing endless paragraphs…and then deleting said paragraphs. So I’m going to take a bit of break from the miscarriage talk and write about something different…marriage, or more specifically, my marriage.

I met Dan when we were both college freshman. Around the second week of school I was having lunch with some girlfriends in the cafeteria when Dan walked in wearing his backpack too tight and I thought “that kids a babe.” For the next two months every Tuesday and Thursday my friends and I went to the cafeteria at the same time and giggled like school girls when Dan walked in. (The cafeteria was called ‘Conn Hall’ and we affectionately referred to Dan as “Conn Hall Boy”). One night in October my friend text me and said “Come to my dorm now! Conn Hall Boy is here!” The rest was history… not in the love at first site, meet each other and live happily ever after way… More in the date for a while, break-up, pretend we’re only friends, go on dates with each other, go on dates with other people, grow up, mature…then fall in love and live happily ever after.

See, as much as I love Dan… while I love that he still gives me butterflies or that I blush kissing him while dancing in the kitchen or that we hold hands when falling asleep at night…the most important part of our relationship isn’t the romantic part… it is that he is my best friend. There isn’t anyone in my life who makes me laugh as hard as Dan does, he is the first person I have ever met who made me feel like me, as myself, was enough. I can honestly say he made me a better person…and I think I made him a better person. At the end of the day the center of our relationship was that we were two people who genuinely enjoyed being together.

At least it was…until the center of our relationship was that we were two people who couldn’t have a child.

See, it’s hard to maintain that ‘happily ever after’ life when your blue-eyed husband is giving you Progesterone injections in your butt every night. The romance fades when dinner conversations consist of hormone levels, follicle counts and warrior embryos. There isn’t a lot to laugh about when your PGD bill comes in the mail, you get a phone call that your Lupron prescription won’t be covered by insurance and that over the past three months you’ve spent over $1,000 on blood work. Somewhere along the way we stopped being Meghan & Dan who fell in love because we were obsessed with the same computer game as kids (some weird Titanic game where you could stop WWII), both pretended Nilla crackers were communion (before we were old enough to get communion, and then realized it was just gross!) and shared a strange obsession with the movie The Labyrinth. We still loved each other, we supported each other, we were a united front at every doctor’s appointed, we celebrated the pregnancy together and mourned the loss together…but we were only focused on being the ‘Childless, SMA-carrying, infertile couple” everything else that made us Dan & Meghan, just stopped being important.

This was never more evident than on a long car ride when Dan turned to me and said “Sometimes I just think you’re more in love with the idea of our baby than you are with me…”

That’s probably the most difficult and authentic thing I have ever written on this blog. And it was also the wake-up call I needed.

The thing about fertility treatments, is they focus a lot on the future… you hear people talk about hopes, dreams, possibilities, what you will have… they don’t really focus on what you do have. It’s not fun to think about what’s happening in your life (hormones, blood work, ultrasounds, egg retrievals, bills…) So instead, you put your head down, you think of the now as a really garbage time, you say it’s all just part of the getting there… getting to your real life… your happy life… you know, your life with babies.

All the suffering leads to happiness… until it doesn’t.

Dan and I spent a year of our life ignoring the present and planning for the future. We focused our energy on what would happen instead of what was happening. We stopped enjoying our life, because we just imagined how much more enjoyable everything would be with a child. On vacation we thought “imagine next time we’re here-we’ll have a baby!” last summer we kept saying “next summer-we’ll be pregnant” during the holidays we agreed “this will be our last holiday as just a couple”. (Remember ‘Gold Dress Meghan’s’ obsession with Christmas cards? I actually remember saying to Dan… “I can’t wait until next year when the card will be our baby, I never have to worry about an awkward couple’s card again!”)

The trouble with that way of thinking is it was based on the possibility of something happening…and then that something ended up not happening. The next vacation we go, we won’t have a baby. Its summer, and I’m not pregnant. Our Christmas card is going to be a couple’s card. We spent our time planning for a future we didn’t get and then looked around and realized we didn’t really plan for anything else.

So, now we have a new plan. Our plan is to stop being some sad, SMA-carrying infertiles, who should be having a baby in November. That isn’t our life. Instead, we’re going to be the two people who shared our first kiss ten years ago on my 19th birthday, we’re going to be two people who love the beach and cheap wine, we’re going to be two people who agree New York has the best Housewives and like to dance in the kitchen while we cook dinner. We’re going to remember that before all of the sadness that happened over the last year, that before we (mostly me) became obsessed with being a Lee Party of 3, we were really happy being a party of 2. That we’re really lucky we don’t just love each other we genuinely like each other. That while it would be really nice if someday we have a baby who is a combination of the best of both of us (his eyes, my lips and our equally weird sense of humor) we’re also better individuals because of who we are as a couple.

See…someday Dan and I are going to be parents (I truly believe this), but if we’re not a better couple because of our struggles to get there it will not be worth it. I realize now I’m willing to sacrifice almost anything to be a mom, but not our relationship. It’s important that we remember that before all of this, we were just two people who fell in love and after all of this, we’re going to be the same two people… we better make sure we’re still in love.