2016.

In January of this year, I started this blog. I started this blog because my older sister implored me to share my story. I started this blog because infertility was ruining most of my relationships and this was an outlet. I started this blog because I liked putting into words the madness swirling around in my head. But, I must admit: I also started this blog because I was sure I was going to have a baby. I didn’t doubt the process when I started this blog. I didn’t ever think I would have a miscarriage when I started this blog. I saw this blog being a nice distraction on the infertility detour of life, but I expected that in a few months I would post a picture of my smiling face and growing belly in that gold dress, leave a little note of inspiration to any other infertiles who read my journey and then call it a day. Goodbye to the sad girl with a gold dress.

But it’s been a year and I’m not the same person who started this blog.

This year has been a challenge to say the least. I’ve experienced the most profound happiness and the most indescribable grief. I’ve learned a lot about love and loss. I’ve learned how hard it can be to say goodbye, even if you never truly had the chance to say hello. I’ve learned lessons in human kindness and compassion, but also ignorance and selfishness. I’ve learned a lot about strength, acceptance and healing. I’ve found devastating pain in silence…when there aren’t any words to say or heartbeats to hear, but I’ve also found unbelievable peace in words…others and my own. This year has taught me lessons I didn’t want to learn, lessons I didn’t know I needed to learn and lessons I’m still discovering the meaning of.

I’m leaving this year wiser, kinder and more accepting. I think loss can make you bitter. I think not getting what you want in life can make you angry. I think pain can make you hard. I’m proud I didn’t go that route. I’m thankful this blog and the people who read it have reminded me that I’m not the lone survivor from some devastating accident on Infertility Island, there are plenty of people to survive on the island with. Smart, compassionate, thoughtful people.  And those ‘lucky ones’, lounging on the mainland or sailing smooth waters in fertile speed boats…they can help too. They may not understand the island, but they’ll send you care packages when you need them and anxiously await the day you get off the island.

There are not enough ways to write thank you to express how truly thankful I am. So just…thank you, thank you, thank you.

My heart has been heavy with hurt this year, but now, I leave it filled with gratitude, love and a sense of peace. I cannot say it’s been a pleasant experience getting to this place in my life, but I’m thankful that I’m here. I like the version of myself I’ve become this year.

In truth, I have no idea what 2017 is going to bring into my life. I anticipate plenty of challenges (island life is never easy), but I’m happy and I’m hopeful. And I think we could all use some happiness and some hope in 2017.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the amazing Neil Gaiman, because…well…words.

“I hope that you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.” –Neil Gaiman

My Voice.

The other day I was scrolling through Facebook while waiting for the night shift to come in at work (valuable use of my time) when I stumbled across a link a former classmate had posted to an article he wrote titled something like “Understanding Infertility”. I opened the article with skepticism…what could this male who is currently not trying to have children understand about infertility? I discovered (via said article) that he works in the infertility field (in what capacity I do not know), but the point of the article was to provide statistics, facts and basically spread awareness; all things I internally cheered him on for. That was until I got to the second to last paragraph of the article where he wrote “and if you’re a couple who has to do in-vitro…so what?” and then went on to talk about the availability of in-vitro services in the United States. SO WHAT? I yelled in my head. SO WHAT? I text my older sister in all CAPS with a screen shot of the paragraph. SO WHAT?

So I did the mature thing…I waited 24 hours, I let the anger subside and I reminded myself this persons goal was clearly aimed at education and awareness. So I decided the best thing I could do was educate him and make him aware that I took offense to (what I felt) was a poor choice of words. I wrote him a private message applauding his decision to publicly address infertility, I thanked him from infertiles everywhere…and then I kindly told him I felt his choice of words (specifically ‘so what’) were both insensitive and inappropriate. I explained that IVF is never an easy decision (as the phrase ‘so what’ implies), IVF is a terribly difficult process and many people do not have success with IVF (myself included). I explained that his language minimized what can only be described as the most emotionally, physically and financially exhausting experience I have had in my entire life.  I applauded his efforts, but encouraged him to consider his word choices carefully if he chose to address infertility in the future. My exact quote: “If you’re going to speak on such a personal subject for many I think you must be cognizant of the impact your choice of words carry.”

I received a response from this person. He apologized if I was offended, tried to justify his message and acknowledged how difficult things must be for my husband and I. Truthfully, I felt his response was slightly condescending, but I accepted it for what it was and put it to rest. He tried. I tried. Water under the bridge-I certainly don’t have energy to waste throwing negative vibes regarding this into the universe.

So what’s the point? The point is one year ago I would never have written this person about their article. I would have been disappointed with the language, but I would have let it go. I specifically remember a year ago someone else posted on Facebook about how angry she would get when people asked why her and her husband didn’t have children yet (they opted not to have children by choice) because she knew people who struggled to conceive and she recognized how insensitive it is to constantly question a childless couple. A man wrote back on her post something along the lines of “people need to stop being so sensitive. If you can’t get pregnant just say you can’t get pregnant and people will leave you alone.” I remember being so mad at this stranger on social media, I remember drafting scathing responses in my head…but I never wrote anything. Truthfully, my mindset was ‘not my friend, not my problem, not my fight’.

But, it is my fight. I own infertility now. I’ve said it before (and I’ll say it again) infertility is like joining a club you never wanted to be part of… I didn’t sign up for this, but I’ll be damned if I let non-members be this clubs voice. I’m all for any (and EVERY) one discussing infertility, spread awareness, don’t let it be the silent heartbreaker it is. But if you’ve never piled up negative pregnancy tests like Jenga blocks, cleaned the kitchen at 3am because of Follistim induced insomnia, lived through the sheer agony of having your partner inject Progesterone into your butt, requested a band aid instead of tape after a blood draw because you’ve learned from experience it’s easier to pull off, notified the doctor your right ovary is always difficult to see on ultrasound, rejoiced over follicle counts and fertilized embryos, kept your legs up  for hours after an embryo transfer, happy-danced in the kitchen over a positive HCG, cried on the stairs after an ultrasound where your babies heart refused to beat or lay on the bathroom floor wrenching in pain as your miscarried your Warrior embryo…you don’t get to be my voice. You can speak for yourself, but you cannot speak for me. I will own this club membership, I will own my story and I will share it with as many (or as few) people as I want to.

Over these past two years, since we were told IVF was our only option of conception, I’ve felt the control being taken away from me. I went from someone who overly planned every aspect of my life, to someone who let the biggest thing in my life be dictated by others. I couldn’t control our infertility, I couldn’t control SMA, I couldn’t control my 9 embryos not maturing or my 3 embryos not being healthy or my 1 precious embryo not beating their tiny Warrior heart. But I can control how I handle all of this. I can control how and when and why I tell my story. And I can speak up if I feel someone else is demeaning my story. Other people can have their own narratives, but this club, my fellow infertiles, we have to own our memberships. Our Club, Our Voices.

WordsWednesday

 

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here, on this earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt or death brushes near…let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” –L. Erdrich

“That’s a pretty good problem to have”

I’ve been in a rut lately…not the crawl into bed and cry for hours while watching the scene where Bailey and Mandy Moore try (and fail) to say Dr. Percy in Greys Anatomy (don’t know the scene?!…saddest one ever)…not that kind of rut. Just a feeling not quite like myself, probably going to cry in the shower, take a break from blogging and not want to see friend’s kind of rut. It’s probably the holidays, possibly hormones, definitely just our life right now. It’s a normal rut, one I’ve been in before, one I’ll be out of eventually.

But, then last week I had an interesting experience. An old classmate reached out to me after reading my blog just to send some positive vibes my way. A co-worker mentioned how much better I look (aka I don’t always have terrible bags under my eyes) since starting my new job. I worked out for the first time (in a long time) and didn’t feel like I was going to die.  And then a friend said something to me in a text message that really hit home… she wrote “You’ve got so many peeps that love and care about you. That’s a pretty good problem to have.” (All her words, including ‘peeps’)

*Insert me…getting the hell out of my rut*

See, sometimes I think we all just need to be reminded people care about us. We need to be reminded that even if we’re not that impressed with the calls being made in this game of life: we still have a pretty strong cheering section. And sometimes we simply need to remind ourselves that life can be pretty crappy sometimes, but we cannot spend all our energy staring at that crap…we (okay, mostly ME) need to look past the garbage.

I needed that rut reality check. I needed someone to remind me that yeah: some truly awful things have come my way lately. It’s okay to cry on our Warriors due date (and multiple days after), it’s okay for the green jealousy monster to sit on my shoulder while I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed (soooo many babies!), it’s okay to spend an entire day off watching Hallmark Channel (the Christmas movies are everything). But if I stay down there, in my woe is me rut, I might miss this amazing life I have.

WordsWednesday

“We all get lost once in a while, sometimes by choice, sometimes due to forces beyond our control. When we learn what it is our soul needs to learn, the path presents itself. Sometimes we see the way out, but wander farther and deeper despite ourselves; the fear, the anger or the sadness preventing us from returning. Sometimes we prefer to be lost and wandering. Sometimes it’s easier. Sometimes we find our own way out. But regardless, always, we are found.” –C. Ahern

Giving Thanks.

 

I’m not a very big fan of Thanksgiving…the food isn’t my favorite (aside from the mashed potatoes of course), I can’t really get behind the whole backstory of the holiday (I don’t really believe the pilgrims were kicking it with the Indians), it’s really just the day I need to get past in order for it to be socially acceptable for me to only listen to Christmas carols and put up all my holiday decorations. But I do make an effort every year to think about what I’m thankful for…most years my list is long and my heart is happy… This year my list is still long (I do have A LOT to be thankful for this year)…my heart though- not happy.

It was a rough week leading up to the holiday. Dan and I tried valiantly to celebrate our Warrior on Sunday. We took a train into New York City on Saturday morning, it was a beautiful day so we spent the afternoon exploring then saw a show that evening. The next day we met his younger brother who lives in the city now for brunch. Dan wanted to ‘celebrate’ the baby we’ll never have on their due date, as if it was a birthday, but I just could not seem to get past that pain in my heart… Dan’s better at this grief thing than I am. He manages to compartmentalize- it’s like there is a box in his brain for all the sadness, but there’s a million other boxes with a million happy things. I am not that way…my grief finds its way into every other box.

My sadness, like me, is a work in progress.

The whole week I felt drained- just emotionally and physically exhausted. I woke up Thursday in a mood. I argued with Dan in the morning, I snapped at my little sister who was spending the weekend, I was slow to get ready (something I never do: I pride myself on being punctual). And then right before we left the house to go to my aunts I had a full-blown breakdown. I saw myself walking into a room filled with people who love Dan and me, but who were fully aware that this year there was supposed to be a baby present…and there wouldn’t be. And I was hysterical…sobbing in Dan’s arms…I just kept repeating “this is not my life.”  I would like say I stopped crying, washed my face and smiled through the rest of my day… but that would be a lie. I smiled with my family, I laughed at their terrible jokes, I enjoyed my time with them…but the ache in my heart didn’t go away. It seems every wonderful thing in my life is overshadowed by my sadness (grief in all my boxes if you will).

BUT…I’ve been thinking. Maybe I need to stop looking at our loss as this terribly tragic thing that happened to us. Maybe when making my list of things I’m thankful for I should include our loss, because I’ve learned so much from our grief and it has truly changed my life.

-I have been amazed almost every single day by the kindness of humans. My parents, my siblings, my friends, my co-workers…they have shown me more love and compassion than I knew most of them were capable of.  My heart has been so filled with gratitude for these amazing people in my life.

-I have been overwhelmed by my husband’s goodness. His ability to hold my sobbing body without saying a word. His willingness to accept the bad days with the good. His positivity, his encouragement, his unwavering faith in the success of our next cycle. He never doubts the process.

-and for my own growth. For the perspective I’ve gained, for the strength I’ve acquired, for the kindness I’m more apt to give. Grief has made me more patient and more understanding. A co-worker asked me the other day why I was always so positive at work, even when things are a genuine nightmare, and I answered her as honestly as I could… “A few months ago I had one of the worst days of my life at work (the day I started to physically miscarry) and only a few people knew. I just try, every day, to remind myself that someone I’m dealing with might also be having one of the worst days of their life.” *That, my friends, is a lesson I never would have learned if it were not for grief and it is one that has truly, completely changed my life*

So here’s a bit of my thankful list:

Dan, my family, my friends, our dog Rory, my health, our home, my job, the fact that AHS: My Roanoke Nightmare didn’t suck, my book club, Tostito’s restaurant style salsa , Hallmark movie channel, my parents having a home in Florida, my nephew Cam and his daily photos which are the highlight of most days, the amazing blog community I’ve spent the past 11 months becoming part of, my new short haircut which saves me a fortune on shampoo, Instagram, Amazon Prime (mostly for the free Amazon music app), Billy Joel and the magic that is Miami 2017, my nurse Marsha at our fertility center, Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc for being as cheap as it is delicious, HomeGoods, my grief, our Warrior and Cycle 2.

 

 

 

 

WordsWednesday

 

“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.” –E.Gilbert

A letter to the baby I’ll never know (on my due date)

Dear Warrior,

There’s an ugly scribbled pen mark on my planner under November 20th…the scribble represents what you became, it covers what you were. On a chilly day in March I sat in a CPR class at work, half listening to the instructor, half staring at my cell phone imploring it to ring. It had been my last morning of bloodwork before our first ultrasound…today I would know if you were ‘developing’ on schedule…you, my precious little Warrior, most certainly were… “Your numbers are perfect!” the nurse exclaimed over the phone and I smiled because I knew they would be…just like you would be, just like you already were. “We can safely give you a due date…November 20th.” I hurried back into the CPR class, ignored the annoyed look of the instructor, and immediately took out my blue polka-dot planner…flipped to November and under the 20th wrote DD with a small heart next to it. (Due Date my dear little Warrior).

A week later, after they told me you did not have a heartbeat, I flipped to the same page and scribbled out that happy DD and little heart with such strength the marks can be seen on October 16th and September 18th….The injustice of it all still makes my heart ache…the grief, the anger, the disappointment…You deserved so much more than a scribble…You deserved a life.

But I could not give you that…so I’d like to give you something else today, your day. Here are all of things I will never get to say to you…

You were not simply hoped for…you were fought for…and you were a fighter too. We called you Warrior because you were a survivor, you were literally made of the strongest stuff. Your cells endured, you told SMA to take a backseat, you were the only 1 of 4 who said you’d like to have an at bat and you were a homerun…

Sadly, we lost the game.

I like to imagine you would have been the best parts of your father and me. I envisioned you with his perfect shade of blue eyes and my strangely oversized lips (you would have hated them through high school because you thought you looked like a fish…then learned to like them in your twenties). I hoped you’d have your father’s strange sense of humor and his innate ability to win over a room within minutes…everyone loves your father, everyone would have loved you. I like to think you would have been a planner like me, a fan of details and a lover of words.

I anticipated a life for you…noisy Christmases with your cousin Cam and a roomful of relatives  you knew were insane, but the good kind of insane, who made you believe in mermaids and haunted shipwrecks, and cheered you on at every sports event and school play. A life where you camped out in the backyard, swam in freezing cold water in Cape Cod, sang along to Disney songs in the backseat of the car and believed in the Tooth Fairy. A life where you knew every single day how much your father and me wanted you, and prayed for you, and fought for you, and loved you…but also knew you were not above punishment, because as much as we wanted, prayed, fought for and loved you…it was important  to us that you were a kind, thoughtful, accepting human.

I know you would not have been perfect. You probably would have drawn on the walls and spilled juice on my white couches. I imagine you would have caused me countless sleepless nights and a lifetime of exhausting days. There would have been times when you let us down…when we found out you teased a classmate or failed a math test…but we would have loved you unconditionally.

We DO love you unconditionally.

The greatest thing I want to tell you is that… I am sorry. I am sorry I could not do better by you. I am sorry that you will never know the joy of riding a two wheeler for the first time, or tease me for crying during The Polar Express (even though we’ve seen it 100 times), or experience the butterflies of having your first crush. I am sorry that today is marked by a scribble…but you were, and always will be, so much more than that.

Your father and I love you. We will never forget you. We will tell the people we love about you for as long as we have people to love. I will always wear the necklace with your name on it around my neck, even if someday I wear the necklaces of your sibling’s names too. If there are siblings, I will tell them about you. I will forever be stronger because of you, because I now believe that a Warrior’s mother is a warrior in her own right.

All the things I wished for you…kindness, strength, unconditional love and hope…you gave them to me. You made me better. I will spend my life whispering to you a million thank you’s, a million I’m sorry’s and a million I love you’s.

So dear Warrior…thank you…I’m sorry…I love you.

-mom

WordsWednesday

 

“For you can grieve your heart out and in the end you’re still where you were. All the grief hasn’t changed a thing. What you have lost will never be returned to you. It will always be lost. You’re only left with your scars to mark the void. All you can choose to do is go on- on not.” –C. Frazier

 

I know its Thursday…forgive me…it’s my first week alone at my new job, my parents are packing up and moving to Florida tomorrow and our Warriors due date is Sunday… The struggle is as real as it gets right now…I think I have a 24 hour grace period on words.