I’ve learned a lot about loss in the past 5 years. Starting a family is an exciting, scary time. For me though, it wasn’t fun, or exciting. It was miserable, traumatizing and debilitating.
Like most upsetting things in life, you tend to work hard to forget the details. I can no longer tell you the details about our many IUIs, which tests the doctor ran and what my results were, the protocols for our first, or second, or third IVF. And I’m OK with that. I don’t feel like those details do me a lot of good now.
I also can’t tell you much about how we walked through the decisions we had to make throughout treatment. When to give up “trying” and move to IUI, when to move to IVF, what protocols could we financially and emotionally afford to follow, what would we give up in our lives to find the money?
One thing I do remember well though is what happened when we finally got our BFP. I was almost a week late, but at this point that wasn’t anything to get excited about. DOR with a family history of POF meant at any time my cycles could start changing. I stared at the test for a few minutes. Blinked. Tilted it in the light, then tilted it the other way. Nope, there was definitely a second line. Went and bought another test. Same result. So I bought a digital. Same results. WTF!!!!!!! That was pretty much what was going through my head. I remember sitting there getting my hair cut, waiting very impatiently, small talking with my hair dresser, repeating in my head “please hurry, please hurry”. I wanted to get out of there. I wanted to get home. I wanted to tell my husband.
I probably shouldn’t have been driving, as I was (obviously) pretty distracted. I stopped at the gas station and picked up a lottery ticket for my husband. We always joked that we were more likely to win the lottery than get pregnant. But here I was armed with 3 positive tests. The look on my husband’s face was priceless. At least I think it was. I barely remember it because I was bawling and hyperventilating. Four years on our infertility super-highway and we were finally pregnant, on our own. Wait – on our own? We spent $70,000 on treatments because we couldn’t get pregnant on our own.
Well it turns out our original diagnosis was closer to the truth. We might have gotten pregnant, but it was very short lived. The end came within a week. I had barely let myself accept it yet. I didn’t enjoy a single minute of it, after the first day of shock/excitement I was too scared to take it for granted. I regret that, because it might be the only time my husband and I ever get pregnant. Too scared I would break something in my body and it would all go away. And it did. No fault of my own, I know that. My eggs have screwed me for years, and this was no different.
The emptiness, depression and gut wrenching hopelessness was more than any normal person could handle. This wasn’t just a miscarriage. It was the last of our hope being ripped away from us. After every high tech treatment failed, after all the money we borrowed from family, the bank, Visa. We knew we would never get pregnant, and then we did. It was like maybe, just maybe, something would go right for us. Foolish. It has almost been 2 years now. That was the single hardest week of my life. There hasn’t been anything that even came close, and there never will be. No matter what we go through now, nothing will shock us. Nothing will ever take my breath away like the day our pregnancy ended. The high was the highest high, and the low was lower than anything humanly possible.
That day our whole world crashed down. But, like I’ve been saying a lot lately, you have to choose happiness. It’s not always easy, and it doesn’t always happen quickly, but you have to make a conscious effort. It probably took me months just to be able to feel happy for a full day. It still chokes me up seeing my two nieces and thinking “they should have a cousin between them”. What I wouldn’t give to have my own family. To fill our beautiful home with rambunctious small people who draw on walls and throw up on all our clothes. Who stain the carpet and pull the cats tails. [NTD: I will be stain proofing everything]. What I wouldn’t give for a chance at that life.
I see people everywhere around me. People who take their families for granted, people who never even wanted families. Parents who cannot provide for their children either due to circumstance or choice. When I look at the world, I see so many people who have kids and don’t respect or appreciate them. And I don’t expect those people to understand my life, but it does hurt me to see what they have that I so desperately want. Is it worth it to be jealous? Not at all. I can spend my days jealous about what everyone else has, or grateful for all the things I have. I choose the latter.
What I wouldn’t give for a chance to have children. I’ve made so many concessions already. I’ve moved our chances from the bedroom to the doctor’s office. From the doctor’s office to the lab. I’ve had so many people tell me that if we just stop trying, it will happen. Look honey, I’m here to tell you that’s not how it works. We’ve been “not trying” for 2 years since our miscarriage. Don’t get me wrong, I am totally open to the idea. I embrace it. In fact, the idea of saving the $40,000 that we currently have allocated to IVF in Washington DC is incredibly exciting. The life we could set up for our child if we didn’t have to go another $40k in debt just to conceive them? But instead, we’ll shell out the money once the exchange rate improves and find other ways to pay back the bank. Because we want a family so bad, if we can make it work we will. Of course, if we happen to hit the jackpot and get pregnant on our own we wouldn’t complain.
Why the rambling about families and children? Because it’s a huge part of every day of my life. Everyone around me has children. But I’m sure when people look into my life they see things that they want and don’t have, and jealously is an ugly thing. But also because I’m having problems with my family. It’s private and right now I’m not ready to share details. But I’m really hurt over things that were said and actions that were carried out. My point doesn’t seem to be getting across, and I can no longer engage in battle.
I’m seeing a therapist, and going to support groups. It’s helping a lot. It makes me think about what I would be like as a parent. What my parents did right and what I was taught when they raised me. What I would do differently. I think parent-child relationships change a lot over time, but I also think that as adults, the relationships are more like friendships. Friendships need to be nurtured. Both people in a friendship have to give and take, have to contribute positively. I have very few people in my life worthy of a true friend title, but the ones who are my friends are loved more than they realize.
All the pain I have been through during my ongoing battle with infertility has taught me that I am the only one who can stick up for myself. I am my only true advocate. My job, my medical struggles, and maturing have all made me tougher. Not as easy to push around. And as I continue to try to start my family with my husband, I find that I am becoming this amazingly open, assertive, confident woman. I am fair, but stern. When I am not happy, I raise my concerns. If there is one thing that I have learned from my support groups it’s that I am the only one who can control myself, my thoughts and my actions. When I look in the mirror I better damn well learn to like the person I see because I am the only thing I can’t get rid of.
The other thing I’ve learned is that I deserve to be surrounded by people who respect me. So, basically at this stage in my life I’m working on bettering myself, evaluating my relationships to make sure they are all healthy and beneficial, getting healthier (today someone said I look like I lost weight, score!) and still trying to win the lottery (= get pregnant). I’m so ready for swollen ankles, stretch marks, morning sickness and every other awful magical thing about pregnancy. I’m not looking forward to the giant needles in DC or the PIO (progesterone in oil) intramuscular injections at home. I’m not looking forward to the nasal spray or micro injections, the blood draws, ultrasounds or the daily doctor’s appointments. But I am ready for pregnancy, for a child to grow inside me. A child that my husband and I want so badly we would do anything for it. And when that day comes, that is going to be the most spoiled, loved and treasured small person the world has ever seen. I know every parent feels that way. But you know what, I will happily join the “every parent feels that way about their kid” club because it means I’m finally a parent. I will still have infertility, but I will have a child. And that alone will help make all the pain of the last 6 years seem manageable.