Trains still moving…

This is going to be my hardest post to write…not because it’s heartbreaking (it’s not…this is a happy happy happy post), but because I know someone, somewhere will read this is and as happy as they will be for me (because let’s be honest all us infertile ladies root for one another) they will be sad…for themselves. Because my train is moving forward and other trains have stalled…or failed to start…or stopped forever. And I get it…I know what it feels like to look at another train and be so genuinely happy for their passengers, but to also wonder why, yet again, it isn’t your train moving forward.

 

I’m almost 20 weeks pregnant with a baby girl. I spent weeks 6-12 of this pregnancy on modified bed-rest and after a scare around 14 weeks it has been smooth sailing. We had our mid-pregnancy ultrasound this week and everything was ideal. The doctor who did the ultrasound actually said it could not have been more perfect and I wanted to hug her. I even started feeling our baby move. It’s been surreal and amazing and unimaginably difficult to describe. I’ve actually started to believe that we’ll have this baby…we painted the nursery, purchased some adorable baby outfits and I’ve even switched over to maternity pants (not because I necessarily need them, but boy are they the most comfortable things in the world!) Although I know we’re not completely ‘out of the words’ (my MD told me we can breathe easier once we get to 22 weeks) I feel good about this pregnancy.

There’s a strangeness is feeling like we’ve almost made it off infertility island. I still have nightmares at least once a week that I’m miscarrying where I wake up in a blind panic. I went to my doctors last week because I was having terrible abdominal cramping (round ligament pain is real folks) and I was convinced something was wrong with the pregnancy. The morning of our mid-pregnancy ultrasound I was actually shaking with nerves. These past 3+ years have conditioned me to expect worst case scenario (because let’s be honest that’s often what we’ve gotten) and that feeling hasn’t completely diminished yet. Family members have asked if I’ll start relaxing more now that our ultrasound was great and we’re almost at the 22 week mark…I’d like to say yes, but honestly I don’t know. I certainly don’t want to waste the joy of this pregnancy on worrying something will go wrong, but I’m an anxious person to begin with and I’ve become a little too acquainted with loss and grief.

What I do know is that about 1,000 times a day I rub my starting-to-pop belly and tell our baby girl how much I love her. I am in awe of what the female body can do. I am continually amazed that inside of me is someone my handsome husband and myself (and a team of top notch medical professionals and the most up-to-date scientific interventions) have created. I’m trying to focus on the absolute miracle it is that we’ve made it this far into a pregnancy… It is not lost on me how lucky my husband and I are.

 I spend a great deal of time saying thank you to anything and anyone who will listen.

I’m going to be honest, I’m not sure how much blogging I will do moving forward. The truth is this blog was started, and has always been, a way for me to survive our infertility journey. I’m not sure I will find as much comfort and peace in sharing this next chapter of our life, nor do I know if I want to. I have a few posts I’ve been working on and obviously I’ll update through the pregnancy, but someday soon the girl with a gold dress will, God-willing, become the girl in a gold dress and I think that might be the place where this particular train stop.

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.