In my last conversation with my fertility nurse in March, I told her let’s plan for an April cycle/May retrieval but to check in with me first. I was very open with her that I was not sure if I would be ready but I don’t want to lose my spot in case I was. Also logistically it made sense to have a May retrieval as I have a number of family events including my sisters wedding over the next few months that I wanted to work around. I did not want to sacrifice attending important events after I’ve essentially been in my house isolated for the last year because of the pandemic.
At the end of last week, I received a voicemail from the nurse to confirm we are starting, an email from the finance person to submit the payment for embryo testing and a voicemail from my prescription carrier that my medications have been approved. I froze. I panicked. I cried. I procrastinated about responding for three days.
Yesterday, I received another message about medication. I told my husband we need to talk and I need to respond to these messages. We then had a tough conversation about where to go from here. We concluded that this is not the right time for us. I just could not picture getting in my car and going to that office again. I couldn’t picture going for the egg retrieval. Injecting myself with medication. All of the thoughts of treatment made me feel triggered and overwhelmed. My heart is still broken and I don’t know if it can take any more heartbreak. I don’t want to open myself up to the possibility of enduring any more. I’ve been telling people since I had my daughter that I am good with one child and that if we had another it would be for her. The truth is that has been a lie I’ve been telling myself to protect myself. I want another but I don’t know how much more I can emotionally give to this process. I’m scared the anger and hurt and bitterness I have been experiencing will never leave my heart if I experience another loss or another failure. So we are not moving forward. I’m going to try to be patient with myself and continue healing. We have family trip in a week and a half that I’ve been looking forward to. My heart is broken but I do have faith the time with my family will leave me feeling more grateful and whole.
Everyone is passing me by.
(the thought that keeps creeping into my head)
My sister is pregnant, five months after our miscarriages (that occurred the same week). My cousin who did ivf a few months after me is pregnant. My friend who had a transfer two weeks after me is pregnant. My sister in law who got pregnant around the same time as me scheduled her induction.
I am thrilled for each of these women in my life. They are so deserving of becoming moms. Three of them have had miscarriages. Two of them have done ivf. Their pregnancies have brought joyful tears to my eyes. I pray for them to have healthy deliveries and I can not wait to meet their babies.
There is not a “BUT” to these feelings but there is an “AND”
I am so happy for them AND so sad for myself. I feel like I’m on a train platform watching them speed by me on their respective trains. I am waiting for a train to stop and pick me up too but one is not coming for me. I’m all alone on the platform and no one is coming to get me. The last train that passes me by has my sister on it. She doesn’t even see me when she goes by. She’s smiling and laughing. She doesn’t even see me. No one sees me anymore. It’s like I’m invisible.
my sister calls or texts me every day with a pregnancy question or update on how she is feeling. I’m waiting for her to say “hey are you ok?” Or “I wish you were pregnant too” but she doesn’t. My sister in law calls me about my other sister in laws baby shower that we are hosting. I wait for her to maybe check in or bring up the miscarriage. I would have been having my babies now too. It’s like her and my mother in law forgot. My mom makes me scratch off the fake lottery ticket announcing my sisters pregnancy and records my reaction on her phone. I wait for her to call me a few days later and say how are you doing. Maybe realize that scratch off announcement may have been better in private for me. She never does. She sends me a copy of the video instead. My grief is invisible and I feel like I can’t bring it up to them.
one person has asked me how I am. My youngest sister said “I’m sure the pregnancy announcement was hard for you.” I feel seen and validated by her. I know she sees me but I also don’t want to put these feelings on her. I don’t want her to feel like she is in an awkward spot if I tell her my other sisters pregnancy text messages are hurting me. And I don’t want to risk her telling my other sister to stop sending them. I don’t want my pain to impact anyone’s joy. I just want to not feel guilty about having my pain.
I just got the call from my doctor. It started with “unfortunately I have bad news.” Honestly she didn’t have to say anything at all. Her tone and the fact that she was calling over the nurse gave it away. I’ve gotten many bad calls before through this process. I can usually pick up if it’s good or bad pretty quickly. This call crushed a hope I’ve had for years. The hope that this second batch of embryos, more specifically this last embryo would bring us a second child. Now that hope is gone. Our embryo is abnormal- missing chromosome 16.
It’s hard to pinpoint how I feel. Sadness, anger, defeat, and exhaustion are all there. My anxiety has spiked as evidenced by the tightness in my chest. I think I need to cry but I’m trying to hold it in as I’m home with alone with my daughter right now.
It’s been almost six years since we first went to the fertility doctor. This embryo has been with me since I was thirty one- first as a frozen egg and then an embryo. It was the hope I clung on to after my miscarriage in October. The hope I clung to when my daughter said repeatively over the last year that she wanted to be a big sister. Now it’s gone …along with the hope. I think my husband and I always attached some luck to this embryo. Brynn was the last embryo in the first bunch, so I always felt this last embryo would be lucky too. When I reflect back on our fertility treatment, I can’t help thinking how crazy it is that my 45 eggs resulted in one baby. As much as the numbers are disappointing, that one baby is the greatest miracle of my life. My greatest joy and I would do it all over again.
Am I done? I don’t know. When my daughter tells me she wants to be a big sister it makes me want to try again. It makes me never want to stop trying. How do you know when you’re done? I try to decide for my future self sometimes- like if I stop now will I regret it in the future? Of course there’s no way to know. No way to know if I am one egg retrieval and one transfer away or if I will never have another child.
Today we signed consents and paid for testing for our final embryo. I got a little emotional signing the papers. It feels like I’m hopping back on a rollercoaster- one that I know is full of twists and turns, amazing highs and terrifying lows. If you would have asked me just a few months ago if I thought we would be testing now, when we are down to our final one I would have said no way but here we are. Ultimately I figured the out of pocket expense is worth saving me the specific heartbreak I experienced in October. Now of course I know there may be other heartbreak coming my way but I guess this is a way to reduce my risk a bit. So here I am…a girl praying my last embroyo is genetically normal so I can embark on another transfer journey. I’m emotionally jumping back on board the IVF train. Where will it take us now…only time will tell.
At the end of each year, I tend to spend some time reflecting. What were the highlights of the year? The tough things? How am I doing? Where do I want to go? That sort of thing.
Well this year, there is certainly a lot to unpack. It’s kinda funny to me that in a year spent mostly at home, so much has changed in the world and in our family and inside of me. I could go on and on but these are my major take aways:
I would not have made it through the pandemic or my miscarriage without Peloton and my friends at work. My workouts gave me balance and peace. They have been enormously helpful for decreasing my anxiety. My coworkers were my sounding board, my emotional support and my community through this weird time.
I need to prioritize slowing down just as much as I prioritize scheduling activities. As someone who goes stir crazy while at home, I’ve learned to appreciate slowing down. December is usually the craziest month for us but this year I soaked in the holidays so much more with my daughter and truly enjoyed the simple things- baking cookies, going to see holiday lights and drinking way too much hot chocolate. It ended up being my favorite Christmas season to date. I want and need more of this.
Boundaries are so important. I spent some time this year setting some boundaries with family. It’s been tough (and often not well-received ) but I am happier inside. I am not bottling up resentment. I am proud of myself for speaking up on situations where I would typically stay quiet.
I need to work on my communication with my husband and parents. I realized I can be really tough on those I love the most. The pandemic has certainly tested my marriage and I have lashed out at my parents a few times. There’s a lot of work I need to do here. I am committed to doing it because it is so worth it.
so where will 2021 lead me? This year has taught me to expect the unexpected. In 2021, I hope we stay healthy. I hope we become a family of four. I hope I put in the work and discipline to expand on my fitness journey. I hope I continue working on my communication skills and improve my relationships. I hope I remember to cherish and value those closest to me and the small moments. I hope we take some amazing vacations.
But no matter what happens or doesn’t happen in 2021, I know everything I need to get through the year is already inside of me and that is the greatest take away.
I did it. I missed an event because of my grief. Tonight my sister in law had a virtual gender reveal and I didn’t attend. I just knew I didn’t have it in me to smile and cheer, even over the phone. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely happy for her and look forward to meeting my nephew (my husband shared it is a boy) but my heart hurts like hell right now and the mere mention of a baby makes me cry. I couldn’t let myself put myself through that today. And with getting my teeth pulled yesterday, I had a reason to be mia. Although I’m sure they may figure out the real reason. But for once, I don’t care what anyone thinks. I have to put my healing first right now.
Ever since the doctor appointment last week, I feel sad and tired and a bit angry. I don’t have the energy to put on a happy face. And tonight I laugh in irony at the name of this blog because I am not experiencing infertility with a smile, not at all. I have a broken heart.
There is this nagging feeling I get sometimes after my daughter has gone to bed for the evening. I think …did I do enough today? …Did I play with her enough? ..Did I give her enough healthy food? Water? Did I pay her enough attention?… Allow her adequate exercise? Ultimately …did I show her how much I love her today?
It’s so hard to answer that last question with a firm yes because my love for her is immeasurable. No amount of attention, perfect parenting decisions or kisses could show it. But tomorrow is another day to try again. I love her so much it hurts. I’m forever grateful this love has me up at night torturing myself with how I can be a better mom to her.
In IVF, you have to make decisions about things fertile people may never even think about. Today my husband and I had our follow up appointment with our doctor. We learned the twins were girls and had Turner syndrome- essentially they had only one X chromosome. Miscarriage is common with this condition.
The doctor has presented us with three choices (the last choice I have “rewritten”)
- Test our remaining embryo and if it is viable transfer it
- Transfer our remaining embryo without genetic testing
- Do another egg retrieval and test all embryos. I have rewritten this choice as “Leave fertility treatment behind and embrace being a family of three.”
So there it is. Three choices. One rewritten by me as the only thing I am confident about is that I am not undergoing another egg retrieval.
Grief is funny. It sneaks up on you. It disguises itself as so many different emotions. Today it visited as anger.
Today I had a moment where I thought back on the last few months and how everything happened so fast and thought “wow did that really happen? Was I really pregnant?” It seemed like before I could fully process the pregnancy, they were gone. And that makes me angry. Angry my fears didn’t allow me to soak in the joy of being pregnant. Angry I didn’t relish every moment with my twins. Angry that my nausea got in the way. Angry that covid restrictions prevented my husband from hearing their heartbeats. Angry that we struggle with this when it comes so easy to others. Angry that I have to make a decision to undergo emotionally and physically exhausting treatments if I want another chance of giving my daughter a sibling. Angry that I have one embryo left that is making me feel guilty about moving on from treatment, moving on with my life. Angry when people say everything happens for a reason. When people claim God makes these calls.
And I’m really angry I have to go to morning monitoring tomorrow so they can check my HCG levels. For some reason these appointments really sting. I don’t mind the other blood draws that come along with IVF. I’ve accepted the poking and prodding as part of the process. But THESE post D&C blood draws to watch my HCG levels plummet just seem cruel and unnecessary. And I’m angry about it.
So we are three days past the d&c and we told my daughter last night. As a school psychologist, I knew what to say. To be clear and direct. To tell her this is no ones fault and answer any questions she had. But I didn’t know was how hard it was going to be to see the twinge of disappointment in her face. It lasted for just a second but I saw it there pass over her every so quickly. More then that, I felt a pang in my heart when I said the words “the babies stopped growing.” My heart hurt that this girl may not ever be, will probably never be the amazing sister I knew she would be. My heart hurt that she wouldn’t get to have a sibling to share in all the holiday traditions with. A sibling to run downstairs on Christmas morning with. A sibling to argue with and care for. A sibling to ride in the backseat with during car trips. A sibling to pass in the hallway at school. A sibling to reflect on a shared childhood with when she is an adult. A sibling to have inside jokes with (probably mostly about me and my husband). A sibling to stand beside her at her wedding. A sibling to help her through difficult times, like my sisters were helping me with now. A sibling for when my husband and I have passed on.
I know a sibling does not guarantee all of these things. I know not all brothers and sisters are close but I knew she would be. I knew they would be. These babies are missing out too because my girl would have loved and protected them fiercely. My little girl is so deserving of this special relationship. So tonight I let the tears roll down my face for the siblings that could have been. The ones I could picture so clearly in my mind. Tonight I cry for all I know that she may miss out on. She may have had a twinge of disappointment but I can see the whole big picture. My daughter did not even get a chance to meet her best friends.