As I sit in bed, recapping my day, I feel immensely guilty that I missed taking my estrogen pill at the exact time I pre-determined to take it each day. You are told to take it as consistently as possible for best results – I was 30mins late – did I just ruin the process? I bet you are confused, estrogen? – who in the world willingly takes more estrogens than they ‘need’ in a month – well this girl and millions of others trying to have a baby the not so old fashion way but the new aged ‘ omg! I have to do what?’ way. Yes I am referring to infertility issues and in particular the process of IVF.
Long story short, when infertility issues hit, at least for our case – it hits hard. Like really hard on all levels – you got it – emotionally, physically, mentally, financially, and I am sure some others ways that have yet to be determined or defined.
When I was younger, I remember half paying attention when people around me, particularly women would talk about pregnancy and babies and families, I would think to myself – that will be me one day – and I completely envisioned it as every time I wanted a baby I would have unprotected sex and bam – 9 months later – a baby.
I am a planner in my profession - so guess what I did? – made a timeline for my life. First comes marriage, then come the babies (as many as I wanted) and so on. I worked hard and envisioned achieving some really cool things and I actually can I say I have accomplished pretty much everything I set my mind to doing. That I believe is what makes our infertility journey excruciating in many way.
It started out perfect – married, kicking butt in my cool job and planning out our family around our busy work and social schedules. And just like that, after a crazy busy summer (purposely holding off on making a baby) we get pregnant. 9 months later – the best little boy came into our lives.
Fast forward, the planner in me is like ok, well we want to do this and we want him to be this far apart in age from his future brother or sister, but wait we have this coming up and we need a vacation and I don’t want to be pregnant on vacation so let’s wait this month and try next. And so on and so forth.
Then came the sun burn before the belly flop. My sun burn is referring to multiple miscarriages. After you have one your whole everything changes, at least it did for me. I felt not in control, guilty, confused, mad, angry, sad, and a whole list of other emotion. Then going through my second – more confusion, hurt, pain, blame, etc. 3rd one…well I will spare you the details.
I knew something was up after the 3rd – this is it. Time to take charge of my body and family’s future – to the Dr. I go. To be honest – it’s a wicked blur after that. I waited 5+ long months to get into a fertility Dr. Part of me still couldn’t believe we were needing to go down this road and another part of me was starting to brace for impact. Ok – here we go – test, test, test, poke, poke, poke, scan, scan, scan. Clean bill of health, except…. we had another miscarriage. Total now 4. Can you envision the really bad sun burn analogy?
More confusion set in. Here comes the genetic talk. Which by the way, many professionals told us was not the case because of our age, history, etc. So you know what – let’s just give them one more vial of blood and cross the genetics off our list. Well, well ,well – wouldn’t you know – genetics is our Achilles Heel.
I won’t get into the details that followed that information - for my emotions sake (selfish I know!) but we were confronted with having ‘balanced translocation’ of our chromosomes. Fancy words for ‘you are fine’ but your chromosomes are a little funky. We have them all – just a few are not in the right spots. Ok, well what does that mean – after several genetic counselling appointments and fancy drawings on the back of random pieces of office papers – the only thing really is this condition can cause infertility issues. Hold on, we have a healthy toddler running around causing a muck as we speak so how can this be?? We were told he was a miracle. Well we already knew that because personally we believe all babies are miracles.
Now we have two options – keeping trying naturally, which scared the crap out of me because I knew that I would get to a point where I couldn’t bear to handle another miscarriage. I knew I would hit a breaking point but not sure when that was going to be. 2nd option – IVF. Me being the control freak thought – hey, this seems like a controlled and monitored situation – I think I can handle this.
So after signing our lives away with our heads spinning but spirits and hopes high we were on the IVF rollercoaster. When our ride neared the finish line and we had successfully made it to each appointment, waited patiently, inserted every needle, swallowed very pill and documented what we thought would be fun to share later – we got the call. Positive test result. WOW. We did it. But we didn’t. Two days later our dreaded call came – your HCG numbers are dropping come back for more blood work. Two days later, with the cotton ball still on my arm from the blood work we heard on the other line ‘I am sorry – prepare for another miscarriage.’ #5 – now defined as that belly flop with a sun burn.
How is that possible? I am still asking that question. Through our unique journey, our embryos HAD TO BE genetically tested. That only made sense because of our condition. So we thought, when 2 out of our 5 embryos, came back ‘normal’ – how could it not work? Well it didn’t and I now realize this one was the most painful and left multiple open wounds.
Here’s where this document stemmed from. I know I need to clean and close my wounds. I knew time would heal but how much – I wasn’t and still am not sure. That was January 1st, 2017 when #5 occurred. Time helped some. Living a normal live without jumping on the highway driving 105kms at 5:30am to beat the traffic and then turn around and drive another 105kms to get to work on time with an extra happy face and attitude so no one would catch on to the journey we were on, helped to close some of the wounds as well.
As I prep myself, both physically and mentally, for our last embryo to be transferred in the near future – I said to myself – put your head down and get through it. But as I was getting ready for bed and went into our near to be 5 year olds room to give him an extra squeeze and 1,000 more kisses – I started to cry. As mentioned in the opening paragraph I realize I didn’t take my meds as scheduled, the guilt started to set it. I know I started to cry because I am on a lot of oestrogen (needed to prep you before a FET – frozen embryo transfer) and I deep down believe a portion is because I thought I was ok not to let out my feelings. I feel an overwhelming need to share our story – to help close my wounds and feel only human walking into our next transfer. Also, to let the people that love us – know that we are ok and if you want to ask how we are – do it.
This expression is my way of attempting to heal some wounds. This expression, I am also hoping, will help heal other wounds for those who may have been through or is still on a similar journey. I know at times it is TMI for some but we are human. Humans go through insane ups and downs and it’s not fair to feel like we cannot cry when we need to, talk it all out when we need to, or just attempt to express what we feel we need to in hopes of achieving some level of inner peace. Whether it is infertility or mental illness – which is just two of the society deemed ‘taboo to talk about’ life issues millions of us are currently going through – just figure out a way to heal your wounds and hold your head up high even when it’s the heaviest. This is my attempt at that.