Reflections on what the non-IVF community doesn’t understand

I have been thinking lately quite a bit about what my adventure in the world of fertility treatment means to me as a person, as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, as a colleague, as a friend, and as a fellow IVF-sister. In fact, it’s been at the forefront of my mind so much that I actually opened up my computer to type this rather than my typical ranting and raving on my phone.

Ok side note before I continue talking- immediately when I typed the above paragraph, while my hands were on the computer, my phone that was sitting next to the computer turns on, I watch it click over to my itunes, and began playing a song from the twilight soundtrack – don’t judge me- and the title of the song is “Possibility.” I literally then watched the sound go up and down, and then I shut it off. Freaked out, I went upstairs and barged in on hubs taking a shower (he had just gotten home from running around a bunch of things today) and apparently had turned on the wireless speaker that both of our phones are synced to. Now, that explains some stuff, but not everything. Sure, my phone was the last to connect to it, but honestly, I don’t have any music saved on my phone. All of it is in iTunes, and I had zero windows open on my phone. Someone explain to me how that exact song- titled “Possibility” decides to be the one to play even if it did pop up. Oh yeah, by the way, I don’t use my iTunes to play music as I haven’t updated or downloaded anything in years. I use Pandora to stream music. I took it as a sign that I need to calm my sh*t down and know that there is a real possibility of us getting pregnant this time around….. Hubs took it as a sign that we have a bad omen or a malicious spirit in our home. So guess who now gets to go to Whole Foods to buy some white sage to smudge their home? That’s right, this girl.

Back to my original post. I have been thinking quite a bit about what this adventure means to me and what it has brought out in me. I have been shown the ugliest side of my being, and I have been shown the most hopeful and optimistic and caring side of my being. I have cried harder and with more longing than I’ve ever experienced, and I have found what it can mean to be content and truly in the moment. As a friend, I have realized that ALL of my friends, no matter how sensitive or empathetic they are, will never really understand how I’m feeling or what going through IVF is like. I say this now not as bitter or cynical, but as someone who has realized that it isn’t their fault that they don’t get it and I have to stop blaming them for it because it isn’t good for me. I am starting to accept that my friends love me, and want goodness for me, but they will never really understand that pain that’s in my heart. Or even the happiness that’s waiting in the shadows; I have to be careful with my happiness, because if I let it out for too long I become consumed by my sadness again. It’s strange to explain, and even stranger to experience. I have had to try to reel in my complaining and discussion about my IVF stuff, because I don’t want it to be the only thing I talk to friends about, and I don’t want to overly burden them with it. I know the weight of carrying this cross so to speak, and it isn’t fair for me to dump it on my friends constantly. It has shown me however, who is willing to help me carry the weight of this experience, and to what depths the people that are closest to me are willing to go to help keep me from drowning. For that I’ll be forever grateful and unable to truly express that feeling to them. This kind of a connection isn’t something I can fully describe, so I will leave it as this: These people that are willing to walk through the fire with me aren’t afraid of my burning them, because they know that it’s better to get a bit burnt than to let me fry alive.

As a daughter, I’ve felt more connected to my parents. Although I am robbed of being able to surprise them with a pregnancy announcement since they are helping us pay for everything and they know when everything is scheduled- hello FET day!- I have more of a connection in a different way than I may have ever experienced if things were different. I remember initially asking my mother, “is it really worth it having kids” and she uncomfortably laughed at me being that I was basically asking her if I was worth it all and then saying “yes”. I have had deeper conversations, I’ve vented my frustration on them, and we’ve talked at length about the inconsideration of others and how this experience has changed me at length. Nothing will ever make me not feel like I was jipped out of my pregnancy experience. And simultaneously, I will always have a different kind of a relationship with my parents because of it- without their support, we would be tens of thousands of dollars in debt. That may still be a possibility as we go along, but at this point, we have the chance of having a child because of them and because of the scientists and doctors and the knowledge of our age. I am again forever grateful for all of them- plus, we now have a running joke that we might name our kids Bentley or Mercedes due to the fact that they could have invested that same money in a luxury car but instead invested it in the possibility of grandchildren.

As a wife. Sigh. As a wife, this experience has changed me in ways indescribable. Our relationship, our marriage, and our love and care for each other is forever scarred, battered, and bruised. And at the same time it is stronger. There is more trust. And there is more love than I think we had for one another, even before we got married and we were in that stage of passion where the entire world doesn’t exist except for the two of you. Now, the whole world in all of its big bad grandeur exists, but it’s more of us against the world together; grasping onto each other, refusing to let the other one drown or get lost in the chaos. We might have loved each other before, but now I see it as we rely on one another to breathe. Like one of those bad movies where someone is drowning and the other person takes a deep breath, dives in, and gives the other person “air” to keep them alive a little bit longer over and over until they can reach the top and breath on their own again. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to show or tell hubs more than that description, but I think that gives you a pretty good clue as to how I feel about the support and love he’s freely given.

And then there’s me as my own person. When I first started this journey, I thought of myself as being “ok.” Willing to do what is needed to protect my future children, not because I am strong, but because it needed to be done. I know most don’t have that choice. I struggle with the decision of what to do with our other 5 embyros that have the BRAC2 gene. Do we humanly destroy them? Donate them to science? Do we keep them cryo-preserved in the hopes that one day scientists can void out that gene and ensure their health? What’s going to happen with the new administration and new laws? Will I even have a choice at what happens to them? Do we donate them to another woman or another couple? So many people reading this would say “I don’t care if they have the gene or not, please give me the chance to have a child!” And I understand that longing. I NEVER want to invalidate that desperate longing or the despair or the hope that comes with it. Your feelings are SO SO valid, and you are valid for having those thoughts and feelings. And yet we decided to take this God-forsaken route to protect our children, so how could i knowingly do that to our other 5 embyros and their would-be families? If I believe in doing what’s right, I need to believe in doing what’s right regardless of whether or not it would be my “problem” years down the road. And yet, how could I judge whether someone else sees the BRAC2 gene as being a horrible life destroying genetic mutation like I do? There are so many people who would see it as nothing more than a heightened risk of developing Breast/Ovarian/Prostate cancer, a chance to have a child, and a chance to have a family- mixed in with having to be on guard about prevention and self-exams. This is just one example of how this journey has changed, and is changing my experience of who I am as an individual. I am more compassionate. I am more sensitive about what I say and how I speak- a feat I thought I had already accomplished as a psychologist. There is quite a bit more that I still need to learn, even though I’ve already been taught and practiced at large. I was not aware that I could experience a pain like what I’ve been dealt, nor was I aware that I could experience such intense joy at the smallest of moments- everything looks good in my uterus? PRAISE GOD ALMIGHTY!!! My ultrasound and blood work came back clean and I can start my next round of injections? WE’RE HAVING A PARTY! I have changed and been changed by this journey, and I am conflicted as to how I have been changing. I recently made a conscious decision to push the sadness and despair and envy and rage and jealousy and bitterness and hate and hopelessness off to the side and to instead focus on the positive and joyful aspects in my life and from what this path has to show me. In 2013, I began a “happy moments” journal where I literally wrote down the date and what made me happy that day. I kept it up on and off through 2014, and then added some in 2015, and just now added to it again this morning. I decided I am going to add to it every day from this point onward- not because I truly believe that it will make me happier, but because I need to remind myself that I am not my test results and that I am not this process. I need to remind myself that I AM strong. That I AM ok. and that I WILL be a mother- regardless of what form that takes. I am choosing hope and acceptance, because I don’t want all of my pain to continue painting my life. I’m not that person, and I refuse to be that person anymore. I saw a beautiful quote today and I will end this post on it for reflection:

In order for Alice to get to Wonderland, she first had to fall.

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