WordsWednesday

 

“Courage is not closing down and denying yourself of hope. Courage is being tender with your vulnerability and acknowledging how much you want it, whatever it is. Courage is also believing in your own strength no matter how it turns out.” –R. Ray

 

 

*Today’s words courtesy of Instagram, I follow this woman’s account which is basically just really inspiring/motivating words and almost fell off my chair when I read these ones. So here I am, moving forward with as much courage as possible for Friday.*

WordsWednesday

“Some people survive and talk about it. Some people survive and go silent. Some people survive and create. Everyone deals with unimaginable pain in their own way, and everyone is entitled to that, without judgement. So the next time you look at someone’s life covetously, remember…you may not want to endure what they are enduring right now, at this moment, whilst they sit so quietly before you, looking like a calm ocean on a sunny day. Remember how vast the ocean’s boundaries are. Whilst somewhere the water is calm, in another place in the very same ocean, there is a colossal storm.” -N. Gill

NIAW. An open letter to infertility.

This is my second year blogging during NIAW (my 3rd year being an active resident of Infertility Island) and Lord do I feel like a lifetime has passed in the past 3 years. Looking back to this time last year I was only weeks out from our miscarriage (I was still going to our fertility center every 3 days to trend my HCG levels, they wouldn’t say I ‘completed’ my natural miscarriage until my level was back to 0…), and I was a mess. I can remember how I felt this time last year: I was filled with grief over the loss of our Warrior, but also so much anger, resentment and disappointment. It’s not pleasant to remember. Two years ago we were just at the beginning of our infertility journey (I genuinely hate using the term ‘journey’ because it reminds me of every episode of The Bachelor, but work with me here), Dan and I had just met with two different genetic counselors and were fairly confident in our decision to pursue IVF, but we were weeks away from meeting with our fertility specialist and being told IVF wasn’t just ‘one of our options’ it was ‘our only option’. I was overwhelmed, but did not yet grasp what the future had in store for us. Go back even further to April 2014, I was 2 months off birth control and every month held excitement and promise…our conversations about having children were still all rainbows and sunshine. It’s been a long road for us and for some reason this week causes me to reflect on that. But instead of writing a post about infertility, I’ve decided to write a post to infertility instead…

 

Dear Infertility,

You snuck into my life three years ago like an unwelcomed houseguest who tore through my happy home, uprooting every aspect of my life and refusing to conform to my house rules. You laughed at my dreams, you mocked my hope, you spit on my perfect plans. You were hell-bent on destroying my relationships, my body and my mind. You were like a teenager with their parents ATM card: you kept taking more money and then not holding up your end of the bargain to earn it back. You kept me up at night, you forced me to go to work with tearstained cheeks and bloodshot eyes, and at times you caused such physical pain I questioned my ability to go on. You forced my hand in almost every aspect of life: you dictated my diet, my job, my vacation schedules, where I built a home and how I spent my paycheck. You made promises you couldn’t keep through heartbeats we never heard. You kicked me when I was down, time and time again. You made me bitter and angry and sad. You made me someone I hated.

And then one day I stopped fighting you.

I welcomed you into my home. I acknowledged how you wanted to live and I accepted that I could live with some of your terrible habits. I made a room for you in my new house and in my heart. I realized I quite like the diet you put me on (I was drinking too much caffeine), the yoga you force me to do daily and the mindfulness you strong arm me into practicing was decreasing my stress level. I realized if I shared you with my friends and family, if I talked about you and shared the details of how my life was changing because of you, that they could teach me different ways to accept you. They grabbed hold of some of the luggage you were forcing me to carry around and it became bearable, it (and I) became lighter. You were an uninvited marriage counselor, you forced Dan and I to acknowledge where we fell short as a couple and inspired us to be better in every aspect of our marriage. You were a cruel teacher at times, but I recognize I needed almost every lesson.

And overtime, without really noticing, I stopped seeing you as the enemy.

I stopped seeing you as something destined to destroy me and realized maybe, in your own terrible way, you were saving me. You were forcing me to be kinder, more present in my life and more generous with my love. You taught me to appreciate the little wins in life, because they really do sustain you during the big losses. You taught me to take the time to tell the people I love how much I love them and appreciate them, because nothing is ever promised. You replaced years of seeing myself as someone weak and insignificant with a profound sense of strength and the knowledge that I’m a survivor. You taught me every lesson there is to know about love.

I don’t doubt you have more to teach me. I don’t question that I will still curse you at times. I am confident you will continue to irritate me and make me cry. But I will remember to say thank you. I will remember that even though you came into my home and rearranged every part of my life, I like where you put some things. You’ve been a terrible companion, but you’ve made me a better friend.

I hope someday you leave. I hope someday there isn’t room for you in my house. I pray you get kicked out by 1 (or 3) of these little embryos we fought so hard for. But even after you leave, when every aspect of my life isn’t dictated by you, when you don’t occupy every moment of downtime in my mind, I’ll remember you. I’ll remember how you changed me, by forcing me to change myself.

So, infertility, thank you…thank you for all of it.

Meghan

WordsWednesday

“That was the thing about the world: it wasn’t that things were harder than you thought they were going to be, it was that they were hard in ways that you didn’t expect.” –L. Grossman

Looking backwards.

Lately, I feel like I’ve been spending a lot of time looking backwards. I know this is mostly due to the fact that we’re in Cycle 2 limbo…we have a plan, but we cannot move forward with anything. I have to get my period again before we can start preparing for a transfer (birth control, Lupron, Progesterone and Estrogen coming soon) or schedule the Hysteroscopy. It never ceases to irritate me that I’ve spent 3+ years hoping to not get my period and then during an IVF cycle I’m praying for it…the joys of infertility. I also know it’s the time of year…tomorrow is April 1st…which was supposed to be the day we heard our Warriors heartbeat last year, but instead was the day we were told I was going to miscarry. So I find myself looking back, instead of forward.

Maybe in a way my remembering is actually a defense mechanism: thinking about our Warrior who wasn’t prevents me from imagining our 3 embryos who may be. I don’t want to think about these embryos as babies or our future…I want them to stay what they are until I know they’re going to be something more. We made a mistake last time, from the beginning we made our Warrior bigger than it was. Last cycle, the minute we found out we only had 1 healthy embryo it became greater than a cluster of cells that could, possibly, eventually become a baby…that 1 lone embryo became every hope and dream Dan and I had. Then when I became pregnant that poor little embryo grew (without ever really growing much at all) into so much more. I expected our Warrior to fix everything…every moment of sadness, disappointment, grief I had suffered in the 2+ years that went into becoming pregnant was going to be healed by this tiny cluster of cells. Every unanswered prayer, unfulfilled wish, unsatisfied longing was going to be answered/fulfilled/satisfied by our Warrior. That embryo was really only ‘present’ in our lives for weeks, but I expected it to fill voids that had been growing for years. My hope was unrealistic and so when we lost that hope my grief was unfathomable. I did that to myself. And I don’t want to do it again.

A few weeks ago, before we knew our 19 went to 3, Dan and I were living in a little IVF dream bubble. We became too confident, too sure. We didn’t hope this cycle was going to give us a baby, we knew it was. We actually discussed the nicknames we would give our babies from embryo to baby (you find yourself having very weird conversations when years of your life are devoted to imaging dream babies). We both loved that our Warrior was never given one of the names we picked out 3 years ago for our children and we decided we wanted any future embryos to also have nicknames (I liked Lil Nug, Dan liked Bebop…don’t ask why we both went with names that sound like boot-leg hip-hop artists). Now, I’d like to go back four weeks and slap myself in my smug embryo nicknaming face.

So, I think that’s why I don’t spend my days thinking about nicknames or pinning nursery ideas or reading What to Expect…I can’t do that this time. Instead, I’ve been thinking about our Warrior and last year and how different I thought life would be right now. I think it’s safer this way…letting myself get teary eyed thinking about how devastating it was sitting in exam room 7…realizing that my world was shattering because a single sound wasn’t being made. Right now I have all these emotions…fear, hope, sadness, excitement and I’m afraid to project them onto our 3 embryos…I’m afraid what that could do if they never become more than what they are at this moment…and so I’m going back…to our Warrior. It’s a safe place to remember and feel the sadness and fear and also excitement and hope.

In a way, I guess there’s comfort in looking back. It’s like this one book I have… it’s the best book I’ve ever read- Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘Never Let Me Go’. It’s a sad book actually, there isn’t a happy ending…but I love it. I’ve read it more times than I can count, there are entire passages I’ve memorized…and even though every time I read it I feel disappointed for the characters, I already know the disappointment. So although I’ll get teary eyed and feel sad, it doesn’t overwhelm me. And maybe looking back, instead of looking forward is kind of like reading that book, instead of finding a new one. I know how our Warriors story ends…it’s such a shitty ending and God I wanted it to end differently…but I know the ending. I’ve re-visited that ending a million times…it (like the book) doesn’t overwhelm me. I think I’m spending all this time looking backwards because I don’t have it in me to start a new story…and I don’t think I need to start a new story…yet.

3…

So we got the call yesterday…the results…3 genetically normal embryos, all healthy, all ready for a transfer (transfers, because who are we kidding I’m not transferring all 3 at once). I have to be honest, I never saw it coming. All three embryos are SMA-carriers (just like Dan and I are), but not a single one is affected. I didn’t expect that. In a way, the past three years has prepared me to expect worst case scenario and yet we got best case scenario. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that. I don’t think I realized how much I was preparing myself for another bad outcome, until, we got the best outcome and I realized I couldn’t even process it because I was so shocked. What I feel now…happiness, gratitude, optimism, I don’t know how to handle it. There have been a lot of tears over the past 24 hours, happy tears. Tears brought on my exhaustion and stress and the realization that something went in our favor…we got a win. A HUGE win. I feel overwhelmed…but the good kind of overwhelmed…overwhelmed for all the right reasons.

So the plan now is to put the train back in motion. We know two stops.

  1. Hysteroscopy
  2. Transfer

It would probably be easy for me to think about other stops…stops that involve pregnancy announcements, nurseries, baby bumps, heartbeats, babies…but I’ve decided that this train is only planning for stops we have scheduled. Stops we know are coming. I’ll sit in my cabin and be positive, I may dream a bit and hope a lot…but I won’t plan. The truth is everything can still wait.

Everything, except celebrating 3 healthy embryos. We don’t have to wait for that. That’s real…and it’s more than enough to celebrate right now.

Choo Choo Choo.

WordsWednesday

“I want it, too, the impossible lighter-side book. I will always be a woman whose first child died, and I won’t give up either that grievance or the bad jokes of everyday life. I will hold on to both forever. I want a book that acknowledges that life goes on but that death goes on, too, that a person who is dead is a long, long story. You move on from it, but the death will never disappear from view.” –E. McCracken

*Finished reading the incredible memoir this quote is from (An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination). It was so profoundly moving I cannot even find the words to describe it. All I can say is: read it, read it, read it.

 

*Update: Of my 23 eggs, 19 fertilized (sign from universe: the handsome husband and I shared our first kiss on my 19th birthday). We should know by tomorrow how many of the 19 developed far enough for DNA extraction for PGD/PGS. Positivity train still chugging along… CHOO CHOOOOO.

 

 

23.

Well we’re officially done with stimming cycle 2. It was definitely easier this time around, which is surprising because I was on a much more aggressive medication plan and my body responded significantly better (higher follicle count), but I felt better. The first time around I was so scared, every ache or pain felt as if something was wrong, I questioned every result. This time I just kind of gave in to the process (okay, not completely I did question my doctors decision to trigger me a day earlier than I wanted), but for the most part…I let it be. I kept saying to Dan “It will either work well, or it won’t. There is not much more we can do.” I guess like most things IVF is something you become better at if you have to do it more than once.

So yesterday I went in for my egg retrieval. At my ultrasound on Tuesday there were 16 measurable follicles in the right ovary and 13 in the left ovary so we were optimistic about a good number of mature eggs. When I woke up from anesthesia (quite poorly might I add, I was crying for some unknown reason) the nurse informed me they had retrieved 23 mature eggs. 23…do I have any connection to the number 23 I wondered and in my anesthesia haze I turned to Dan and said “I always liked the Jimmy Eat World song 23” he laughed at me and replied something along the lines of “good sign”-Dan’s used to me making connections like this- it’s kind of m.o. I’m always looking for signs from the universe. So a connection to a song I’ve liked since I was a teenager and watched too much One Tree Hill (I was more team Brooke, but Peyton did have excellent taste in music)…positive sign.

We’ll be happy with 23, we’ll be thankful for 23, we’ll even celebrate 23. Of course, we’re realistic, we know 23 eggs does not mean multiple (or any embryos). We know that yesterday’s number was just the first number we received. Today they will call with the number of eggs that fertilized. Next week they will call with the number of embryos that make it to day 5 for DNA extraction.6 weeks from now they’ll call to tell us how many of those embryos are healthy. 23 is just the start….but it’s a damn good start. And we’ll take it.