I was lucky this season to enjoy both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners at our new home with the whole family. Both my side and Brandon’s side of the family were here, including Evelyn and baby Squishy. It was pretty cool watching Evelyn teach everyone how to magically turn on and off the Christmas tree lights thanks to a Wemo Switch and uncle Fun’s iPhone. And thanks to walkie-talkies from auntie and uncle Fun, Evelyn was able to shout her commands from across the pond and see her magic tree lighting skills in action from half a mile away.
It makes me think a lot about our future. What will our family look like? While we’ll only be able to afford one treatment in DC, and maybe only have one child, what will we be like as parents? Will we encourage magic like Courtney and Aaron did when uncle Fun played with Evelyn and the tree? Would we spoil them like auntie Fun did with the American Thanksgiving sundae station?
I like to think we will do both, and more.
Notice I say “we will” and not “we would”? That switch to the future from hypothetical is a big one for me. One that has taken me over 5 years to make. That’s because control is one of the first things infertility takes away. In every other aspect of life, the harder you work, the more rewards. If I want a raise at work, I have to put in more hours. If I want to make a higher level sports team I have to practice more than everyone else. If I want a baby, I have to try harder at… Oh wait. That’s not how it works.
When you’re diagnosed with infertility, no amount of trying harder works. You no longer have any control over how or when you’ll have a child, instead it’s all in the hands of your doctors. Those doctors monitor your every move. It’s daunting. And not at all romantic. And it can do one of two things: bring two people closer together, or rip them apart.
That’s where the future comes in. Brandon and I have only gotten closer. And while I would love to be mad at infertility with every bone in my body for the rest of my life (and I have these days for sure), that is in no way productive. So I shelf the box with my infertility, and only bring it out when I have time to take an honest look inside. I don’t glance at it for a quick 15 minute trip down memory lane. I sit down for a couple hours when I know I have time and tackle my ghosts. I’ve found this coping mechanism works a lot better for me than the things I’ve tried in the past. Infertility takes away my control over my reproduction. Dwelling on it takes away my control of my future.
You see, my life is made up of so much more than IVF, IUI, ICSI, DPO, BFN and other IF acronyms. It’s made up of the people and places that I choose. It’s made up of enormous success at work in the past couple years. A couple recent coaching adventures in hockey. My friends and family who have been here to support me through the time when I was mad at infertility for every minute of every day. I know now, after many blunders, that life is what I make it. And while my life doesn’t look the way I originally planned, and I don’t have it all figured out, I do have control over how I react to what happens.
So my plan for 2015 is to try to figure out which things are important and which are not. And then to focus on making the the bad things good and the good things better. For example, my weight is getting a little out of hand. At first it was the IVF drugs, which really sucked. But then I never got rid of those 12 or so pounds. Then it was 10 more pounds because I just accepted that I was getting fatter. So instead of just accepting this any longer, I’m going to change it. I’ve got my new Beats sport headphones, a couple new running shirts, and a lot of motivation. Besides, I remember how much better I felt when I was taking lunch breaks at work to run.
While I may have too much weight, I have not enough sleep. Sleep affects stress. Stress affects work, and stress affects weight. So right away I’m not doing myself any favours. Another part of my plan is to just get a little more sleep. Even half-hour every night. Sounds easy, but for me it won’t be. I have a really hard time winding down before 10pm. But I know part of that is conditioning. Getting just a few more hours of sleep every week will help me manage my stress.
Now here’s the crazy part. Both stress and weight can affect fertility in some way. Even though in my case they won’t improve my chances of conceiving naturally (based on my diagnosis of Decreased Ovarian Reserve), they will increase my chances of successful IVF. Studies have shown that even minor decreases in weight can improve fertility. And while the jury is still out on how stress affects fertility, there is no doubt the two are related.
So here I am five years into my infertility journey, just as unhappy about it as I was five years ago. In fact, maybe even more so because it’s been so long. But my outlook has changed over the last six months. And while I want to be in control of my entire life, that just isn’t going to work. But instead of fighting that inevitable truth, I’m going to do what I can to improve my chances of starting our family this year. And my husband is on board too.
Wish us luck in our quest to start a family. It involves more exercise, fewer calories, lots of love and lots of patience. But at the end of the road, we will have our miracle. What the future holds for us is 90% what we make if it, and 10% luck. With odds like that, I’m going to be trying to make the best of every situation.
Even on a cloudy day, I can choose to see the sunshine.
Happy New Year.