Starting a family: our journey to parenthood - Part II
I'm not pregnant.
But. Wait. How? We did everything right. We followed the rules. We endured endless procedures and tests. We spent time, money, and emotions on this dream of becoming parents. It was supposed to work out. It was supposed to be the happiest time in our lives. We were supposed to be a family.
Unless you have been on the receiving end of a negative pregnancy result after IVF, there is just no way you can be prepared for how you are truly going to feel. Not to mention that you are still FULL of hormones from the process.
In the weeks leading up to finding out the result, you're living each day as if you are pregnant. Eating healthy, trying to get sleep, staying positive, believing that every shot, every physically painful moment, every hormone jolt is going to be worth the end result. Your mindset adjusts to the expectation that you are pregnant. So, when there's no baby...well, it's devastating.
It was almost too devastating for tears. I was sort of numb at first. Then angry. Then confused. Then, I finally cried. Oh, the emotional drain of the last weeks and months of tests, doctor's visits, being poked, prodded, and exposed (both physically and emotionally)... and for what? Another negative pregnancy result?
Did we want to do this again? Was it worth all this? Could we go through all of this again?
Well, ulitmately, yes.
After a few weeks of sorting through emotions and thinking about what we really wanted, it was decided that it was worth the risk again. Because the idea of a family of our own was something that we felt was worth it. And, at the end of the day, if we went through all of this again and failed, we would have our answer. We discussed adoption as an alternative and it wasn't ruled out, but we wanted to give it one more try to have a baby.
"It was almost too devastating for tears. I was sort of numb at first. Then angry.
Then confused. Then, I finally cried."
So, after taking some time to back off the hormones and be kind to my body, we took LOTS of deep breaths and started again. I was calm. I was open. I was real with myself and my emotions. What was meant to be, would be.
That didn't occur overnight, believe me. It took lots of tears, a roller coaster of emotions and endless thinking. And we had to physically and mentally block out the mindless words of friends and family that just didn't get what going through this journey was like. And yet, the tug in my heart to have a baby was so strong and continued to drive me forward.
But I did some things a little differently. I started acupuncture. It was amazing. I remember walking into the tiny office for the first time and wondering if this was crazy. But then I met my acupuncturist. She was a lovely lady with a quiet, gentle demeanor. After a brief discussion, she began the session. I couldn't believe that I was going to allow someone to stick needles in my skin! How was this not going to freak me out more?!
She walked me through the process of what she was doing, all while reminding me to lay still and relax. In her soothing and calm voice, as I started to close my eyes, she looked at me and said " You will have a baby. You will become a mom. It's in your aura. It's going to work."
Now, maybe she says this to all the hopeful mamas-in-waiting, but it struck me in such a way that I did calm down. I accepted her words and took it to heart (or my womb) and believed that this would happen.
If you never had acupuncture, I highly recommend it. It's calming, and sort of like a really deep meditation, full of warmth and relaxation. A mini-vacation for the mind! And the needles don't hurt. Really. You may feel a tinge here or there, but it's relatively painless.
With acupuncture underway, a clearer head, and a full heart, we decided to move forward with more fertility treatments. I was nervous, but open to what ever would happen.
In the months that followed, we proceeded with four IUI (intrauterine insemination) procedures to see if we could do this on our own. We still had the constant hormone injections and the progesterone shots-from-hell, and to no avail, the IUIs didn't work. After four more failed attempts at not achieving a successful pregnancy, we had no choice but to move forward with another round of IVF.
The doubt started creeping in again. The fear of thinking that this was truly it for us to have a baby was beyond real. And I was really getting tired of riding the baby train. I'll say it again - the emotional ups-and-downs are exhausting. But the love for a baby is so very strong, it propels you forward.
So, once again, the big day came for us to do the final procedure. I cried. We held hands and we were very quiet. But I let the bigger emotions pass and then, I was calm, accepting and peaceful.
In the days that followed, I actually enjoyed my bedrest this time. We watched movies, ate delicious food, and enjoyed our time together. We had to wait two weeks to find out if it had worked. As that day approached, my nerves got the best of me and I worried that I would, once again, be a failure at attempting motherhood.
It was a typical work day and we had started the day very early with a trip to the doctor's office for that one last blood draw. Once again, it was the longest morning of my life and my confidence was shaky. As we parted ways in the parking lot, I finally voiced my concern that maybe it didn't work this time. And, as he typically does, my husband tried to find the humor in my worry to help me feel better.
I had been craving Wendy's cheeseburgers more than usual and so, his response to me was that if we were finally pregnant, he would buy me a Wendy's cheeseburger. I laughed and agreed, but in my head and heart I was preparing for either answer.
The phone rings as I'm sitting at my desk and my mind immediately went to the last time this phone call was expected. When I found out that the IVF hadn't worked, when I felt like my heart had broke into a million tiny pieces, when I felt like I would never become a mother. So, what if this happens again? What would I do? But in that instant, I knew - I finally knew that I would be ok, either way. So, I picked up the phone...
My next phone call was to my husband. And as he answered the phone, I responded with "You owe me a cheeseburger."
She arrived 7 months later (yes, very early), in a slightly dramatic fashion but she arrived! We were PARENTS! Finally, we had a wonderful, lovely, perfect, amazing little girl. Our true miracle.
Was it a hard journey? Yes.
Was it exhausting, draining, and emotional. Yes. But isn't parenthood?
Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY.
She is my heart and soul. The first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing I think of before I sleep.
I am thankful. Every. Single. Day.
So, if you are experiencing the journey of infertility, I feel you. I get you. I pray for you. There is no guarantee that everyone will have the same outcome but whatever you choose to go through with fertility treatments, experience it. Feel the journey. Your path will be revealed to you, one way or another, and you will be better and stronger for it.
The fertility bridge is one that I am thankful that I crossed. It's what I live (and love) for.