Friday, July 30, 2010

funky friday

I'm not pregnant. Not that this is incredibly shocking news or anything, but it's still no fun. Today I've officially moved on to cycle #28.

Le sigh.

Being as it's Friday and I'm hormonal as hell, I just don't have it in me to write a post. I'm in a I've-been-trying-to-have-a-baby-for-way-too-long funk. Instead, I thought I'd jump in on the "follow Friday" trend and share a few blogs I follow that have nothing to do with infertility:

Girl, Boy, Dog & Food: This is a great food and travel blog written by my college buddy, Madeline. She's posted some great summer recipes lately. Go check them out! 

Matt, Liz and Madeline: This blog is indescribable. Really, I can't explain how amazing it is. For the back story, click here. But fair warning: you'll need tissues. 

Kitchen Little: My coworker and office partner in crime, Shannon, recently started this food blog. I know from experience that her recipe for chocolate cupcakes is to. die. for. 

Shit My Kid Ruined: I just discovered this blog recently, and I must say that I visit it whenever I feel depressed about not having a child. Heh.

That's all from this cranky infertile today. I hope everyone has a great weekend, and maybe I'll be more enthusiastic about my uterus next week.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

infertile fantasies

I've been thinking a lot lately about the pressures we face while going through infertility and how a lot of those pressures are compounded by outside sources: work, family, friends, or finances. The more stress we have on our plates, the more we are likely to be stressed about infertility.

Sometimes I daydream about what would help take my stress away. A leave of absence from work would certainly do it. A weekly massage, maybe. Free bottles of wine for being infertile? YES. Maybe it's something as simple as the shows like Teen Mom and I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant being blocked from my TV guide. (Uh, really? You didn't know you were pregnant?)

Have you ever thought what would make your life easier as an infertile? Maybe it's a free vacation every year--paid for by your fertility clinic, of course. Or a basic request, like wishing they made "Infertile on board" signs for your car to warn other drivers about your hormone-induced road rage.

What are some of your infertility-related fantasies?

Monday, July 26, 2010

let me break on down

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to release my emotions about our infertility.

I still wonder the same things. I still have the same questions. I sense anger and sadness, but it's not the same. My feelings seem to be swimming around inside of me in circles, not growing or getting smaller. Just being.

Have I become numb?

Part of me thinks that I have in all aspects of my life. As more things seem to pile on--Joey's uncle dying, the situation with our neighbor, more shit breaking in the house, uncertainty at work, Joey's sister having cancer, my insurance company no longer considering my RE to be "in network" because he's affiliated with a certain hospital, etc.--the more upset I should get, right? Emotions should have overflowed by now. I'm usually great at expressing them: crying, blogging, screaming. But lately? Nothing. There's nothing there, especially when it relates to infertility. 

Maybe I'm finally learning how to truly give up control. Maybe this is my mind and my body coming together and realizing that no, there is nothing I can do about anything anymore. I can't control life. I can't control my body. I can't control the slutty girls from high school who pop out children like they are going out of style. I can't control the asinine journalists who write "articles" about infertility which further perpetuate stereotypes and set back YEARS of advocacy and awareness. I can't control the people who, when I tell them I am going to do IVF, ask me if I am going to end up like Octo Mom (refer to previous point). I can't control being 70 years old, shitting my pants, with no daughter or son to take care of me. I can't control people not understanding or not caring or not being there for me.

Perhaps this is it. Perhaps I'm having the epiphany to end all epiphanies.

Or maybe I've just finally gone off of the proverbial deep end. Maybe I'm realizing that I'm no closer to being a mom now than I was over two years ago.

Maybe part of me is giving up.

Friday, July 23, 2010

more than she should bear

I don't typically write sad, gut-wrenching stories in this blog. I try my best to keep things as light as possible and make a conscious effort not to maintain a depressing atmosphere. 

But I have to share a story. And it's a story that rips my heart apart.

On June 29, two police officers in Tampa, about an hour southwest of Orlando, were shot and killed during a routine traffic stop. Three days later, police found and arrested the suspect. One day after that, the city honored both officers in a memorial service. 31-year-old David Curtis left behind a wife and four boys. Jeffrey Kocab, also 31, also left behind his wife, 9-months pregnant with their first child, to whom he'd been married for ten years.

The shooting was top news. On some networks, it made national headlines. But in the days that followed the suspect's arrest and the victims' memorial service, the spotlight slowly faded from this horrific story. It became just another tragedy in a list of thousands.

Two days ago, Sara Kocab delivered her and Jeff's first child. Lilly Nicole.

Lilly was stillborn.

And Sara must now bury her daughter, just weeks after burying her husband.

I've questioned faith and humanity a lot in this journey, but never so much as in the moment that I heard Sara lost her child. The same thoughts circled in my head over and over again: married ten years, finally pregnant, dead husband, only child, stillborn. Reading about Jeff, Sara, and their daughter moved me so much, that I found myself practically wordless. Yet, I felt it necessary to share it so that we--a community filled with tragedy and loss of our own--could keep her in our thoughts over the coming months. 

But this story took another turn yesterday morning. A turn that, despite my greatest efforts, I could never put into writing as well as Sue Carlton did in her column published this morning in the St. Pete Times.

What you are about to read is a true lesson in love and strength through extreme adversity.

Thank you for teaching me, Sara.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

questions and answers

I absolutely loved reading all of your questions! They were so fun to answer. And it was really nice to take a break from writing about infertility. Without further ado, here is what you wanted to know:

How did you and your husband meet? 

My husband and I met in 2001. I was 16 and he was my 24-year-old boss at my very first job. Now before you judge, know that he never once looked at me like that until much later. But me? For me it was love at first sight. My friends thought I was insane. I was a high school student who fell for a guy eight years her senior.

Joey and I kept in touch even after he went to open/manage another store. He served as my mentor and even wrote me letters of recommendation to college. In May of 2003, I graduated high school and the following month left for UF's summer session. When fall and football season rolled around, I decided to invite Joey and another friend we worked with up for a game. It was on that night after the game, after one too many shots, that I told Joey how I felt about him. A month later, I finally twisted his arm enough to go on a date with me, and the rest is history. 

What is your favorite memory from your wedding day? 

I have two favorite memories of my wedding day.

The first comes before I ever walked down the aisle. When the last of my family members left the "girls" room at the church, my bridesmaids and I stood in a circle and started to sing "Going to the Chapel." We were laughing so hard when we got to the second verse and didn't know the words that the church's wedding coordinator had to come in and tell us to be quiet. I just remember how happy I was and how much it meant to me to have those girls there.

My second favorite memory was seeing my husband's face as I got to the end of the aisle. He looked completely nervous. And just when I thought he was going to turn to me and tell me how this was the happiest day of his life, he whispered in my ear:

"You look hot."

What state or country is your dream country/state to live in?

Europe. Maybe Italy, France, or the UK.

Why do you have to wait until early 2011 to do IVF? Is there a more significant waiting period between cycles?

Money. We could do it right now if we had an extra $15,000 sitting around.

If money was no object, how many IUIs and/or IVFs would you consider doing?

This is tough. I wouldn't do anymore IUIs, but I think I would still only do one IVF cycle. For me, it's not just about the money. It's about the emotional energy that has to be put into each cycle, as well as the physical strain. I barely think I can handle going through that once. I don't think I could do it more than that if the first try was a negative.

What is your occupation?

I'm an editor for a company that publishes textbooks for at-risk adult learners. It's about as boring as it sounds. Previously, I worked in the editorial department at a top-five trade publishing house (hint: it's the same house that published the world's most popular vampire series). I love to edit, but I'm not a fan of the corporate BS that can go along with this job--which is why I'm going back for my master's in library and information studies. But I'd love to continue freelance editing on the side.

Where is your happy place?

Anywhere with my husband!

If you could have a do-over on any moment in your life (non IF-related) what would it be? And why?

Leave it to Mic to ask the toughest question! I don't know. I usually don't think about do-overs. I personally believe that changing one moment can change the rest of your life forever (see: that horrible movie with Ashton Kutcher, The Butterfly Effect). Part of me thinks that having the opportunity to go back and change things may make certain situations better. Another part of me thinks that a do-over is an easy way out. But the great thing about mistakes is that you (hopefully) learn from them. For me, every moment in my life--good and bad--has made me the person that I am today. That said, I don't think I would go back and change anything. 

Who is your number 1 "freebie" celebrity?

Oh, I love this question! Because it reminds me of that Friends episode, The One with Frank Jr., where each character makes a freebie list of their top five celebrities. Joey and I also have freebie lists inspired by that episode. My current list of five consists of (in no particular order):

Chase Utley


Mark Wahlberg

 
Patrick Dempsey


JJ Redick


Jake Gyllenhaal


What is the best book you have read recently?

I just recently read Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. It was so good that I finished it in less than a day and cried my eyes out through the entire last chapter. Go read it. (Disclaimer: the book does touch a little bit on infertility, specifically loss, but it's not central to the book's story line. In other words, that's not what made me cry!)

What is the best place you have traveled to?

Maui.  

If you won the lottery and didn't have to work anymore, what would you do?

Aside from the obvious like paying off debt and doing IVF now, I would: pay for my brother's college education, pay off debt for our parents, still go to graduate school, buy a single-family home (no more Carl!), adopt more dogs, replace my struggling car, take our entire family on a trip, adopt and foster children of all ages, travel with my husband and kids, start a foundation for infertility treatments, and volunteer at a children's hospital. I'd love to work with cancer patients.

What's your favorite adult beverage?

I've become extremely boring in my older age. I'm a beer, wine, and vodka girl. Occasionally I'll drink a White Russian. If it's a special occasion, champagne.

How would you spend a day you had all to yourself?

A few months ago, I think I would have done nothing. Now, I would book myself a day at the spa, complete with lunch, wine or champagne, and some kind of delicious chocolate dessert. A girl can dream, can't she?

Who's your hero?

My mom. She's a cancer survivor, a single mom, and my best friend.

Do you follow any sports and if so, who's your favorite team?

I am a HUGE sports girl. Our television is on ESPN more than any other channel, and it's not just because my husband has the remote. I was born right outside of Philly, so I am a devoted fan of the Phillies and Eagles. As for college sports, I'm a proud Florida graduate and bleed orange and blue. Obviously, I love Gator football, but I'll follow and watch pretty much every Gator sport. That includes gymnastics. Last, living in Central Florida for about half of my life, I've become a Magic fan. I never used to be a fan of the NBA, but it's hard not to root for your town's team. And now that they play well, it's fun to watch this city rally around their team.

For the record, I hate the every team from New York, think the world would be a better place without Kobe Bryant, and don't understand the hype about Stephen Strasburg (yeah, he's good . . . but can he at least play for a full season before we canonize him?).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

july ICLW

Welcome to the July 2010 version of ICLW. If you have no idea what that crazy-looking acronym means, click on the link to your right and join in on the fun.

I'm getting a little depressed repeating our infertility story every single month, so here's the shortened version in mathematical form (funny . . . I hate math):

27 cycles + 4 IUIs + 1 LAP + 2 REs + over $5,000 = no BFPs and 1 future IVF, in early 2011

If you want all of the sordid details, you can click here and here.

This time, instead of rehashing all of my heartache and writing information that I think you'll want to read, I thought I would let all of you tell me what you are interested in learning about me. So, really, what DO you want to know? Ask me anything and my next post will be the answers to any of your burning questions.

Happy ICLW! I look forward to getting to know all of you.

Monday, July 19, 2010

an infertile woman's worth

The day my doctor diagnosed me with infertility was the loneliest day of my life.

I went from being the woman who wanted a child to being the woman who couldn't have a child. But even more lonely than the feeling of not being able to have a child was the feeling of no longer belonging. At the time, I was a member of a message board about trying to conceive a first child. No longer did I feel at home posting in the regular cycle threads. Yet I also wasn't moving on to treatment. Joey had just lost his job due to the failing economy and we were at a crossroads financially. My insurance at the time covered both testing and treatment, but we knew that it would be months before we could see an RE--it was simply financially irresponsible for us to try and get pregnant while down one income. Even after our move to Florida, getting settled, and getting new jobs, expensive treatments just weren't an option for us. We are very fortunate to have been able to afford four IUIs and be on the road to saving for IVF. When I get down about waiting this long to have a baby, I count my blessings because I know that some people are less fortunate.

But this post isn't about the value of money. It's about the value of people.

I think, as a whole, we truly value each other in this community. I learned this quickly after my diagnosis. So many women who were going through or had been through the exact same thing reached out to me. We formed a small group on the message board. Eventually, most of us split off from the board, started our own blogs, and became friends on Facebook. I've said it many times, but I don't know what I would do without you women. Particularly those of you who've been there for me since the beginning and who still walk with me every step of the way. Sometimes, though, I think there are a select few out there who place too much value on treatment and not enough on people.

In the last year and a half that I've blogged, I've read countless positive, happy-outcome stories: stories of women who went through multiple rounds of Clomid only to do an IUI and become pregnant, stories of women who got pregnant on their first or second round of Femara, and stories of women who conceived naturally after learning that their last IUI failed. Every single one of these stories is and should be a beacon of hope for all of us. We might feel barren, but we are not. When we least expect it, our bodies can surprise us and miracles CAN happen. And, most of all, every single one of us who has endured this diagnosis deserves that positive pee stick at the end of this tunnel.

Unfortunately, I've also read a lot of apologies from these women. Some of them feel like a fraud. Some of them didn't have to go through “what other women had to go through” to achieve success. Some of them felt guilty when their friends had to move on to bigger and more expensive treatments. Even worse, there are women on the other side of the fence--those who have been through the big treatments--who look down on the women with less experience. As if, somehow, “only” going through a round or two of Clomid and some testing make a woman less important in our community. As if infertiles who go through treatments that are more complex are worthier of motherhood and happiness.

I'm not sure when and how the line became blurred between infertiles and non-infertiles. To me, it's always been simple: if you've sat in an exam room or an office and listen to a doctor tell you that you are infertile, that you may never conceive a child the natural way (or at all), you are infertile. If you have endured a year of trying to have a baby with no luck and you have to step foot into an RE's office, you are infertile. If you experience loss, repeat loss, cancer, endometriosis, PCOS, or have a husband with male factor issues, you are infertile.

It’s bad enough that it’s us against the world; we shouldn’t let it become us against us. Having “only” taken Clomid, or even getting pregnant naturally, doesn’t make someone less qualified to be infertile. It doesn’t make their advice or their friendship less meaningful. It doesn’t make their road any easier, their nights any less sleepless, their pain any less significant. And, in the same sense, having gone through bigger treatments doesn’t make someone any more important or worthy of speaking about/advocating for infertility. It doesn’t make their emotions any more concrete. It doesn’t make their support more valuable.

The reality is that we are all in the same, shitty boat. We all have the same basket of lemons to carry. And our value doesn’t come with how many treatments we’ve had, or how much money or time we’ve invested. Our value comes from how we’ve supported one another, how we’ve offered advice, how we’ve cried tears of sorrow and joy, and how we’ve hugged and held one another from sometimes thousands of miles away. Each of us is equally deserving of the happiness we seek and we need to remember this. Because we are the only ones who understand and can pull each other through this. We are all we have.

Each of us carries a different burden on this journey. We all walk in different shoes. But we need to remember that our shoes are from the same store. Our paths will be different and we will end in different places, but we all began at the same location with the same goal:

We all began with the hope and dream of becoming a mother.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

the one where katie's head explodes

Thank you all for the sweet comments on my last post. I'm feeling a little better, emotionally anyway. Physically I'm still in a lot of pain. Today has been the worst day so far, probably because I tried to go cold turkey on the muscle relaxers last night. I know a lot of you mentioned getting a mouth guard in your comments. I've tried using one in the past, but it just doesn't work for me. Mouth guard = more discomfort, more drooling, and even less sleep. For the time being, I'm afraid that I'm stuck like this. My brain feels like a ticking time bomb, just waiting to burst into a thousand pieces.

The good news is that I won't have to endure my usual two-hour-a-day work commute tomorrow and Friday since I'll be attending a conference in Orlando, not too far from my mom's house. Maybe the two days away from the office combined with less time in the car will make for less stress.

I'm really looking forward to acu on Saturday. Last session, my acupuncturist put some needles in the area of my jaw that really hurts and it helped to take some of the pressure away. She also put needles in my hips, since they were extremely sore when AF was in town, and changed up my herbs to help with the stomach issues I had on cycle days 1 through 3 and to cleanse my uterus (which, apparently, is not yet good soil to grow a garden, according to my acupuncturist). And I just love how positive she is. She seems so confident that she can get my body to work and her confidence rubs off on me. As I walked out the door after my last session she said, "Next month, I get you pregnant. Right now, I cleanse your body, but next month I get you pregnant."

Boy, I sure hope she's right.

Monday, July 12, 2010

warning: downer post ahead

Blah.

After finishing my antibiotics from the cough/cold/funk I caught at the end of June, my left ear began to hurt. Bad. I hemmed and hawed about going back to the doctor, but finally decided to bite the bullet and have him check things out last week. Thankfully, it's not an ear infection, but I am clenching my teeth at night. It's something I did often in my early college years and it's due to . . . wait for it . . .  stress. Go figure! The conversation with my doc, who I've seen since age 12, went a little something like this: 

Doc: It's definitely not an ear infection. It's your TMJ. You're clenching your jaw again. Have you been under a lot of stress lately?
Me: Dr. Young, you've known me for 13 years. When am I not stressed?
Doc: Good point.

So here I am: back on steroids during the day and on muscle relaxers at night to help loosen my jaw (which means drooling, and lots of it. I know you think that's hot). Of course, neither of these medications takes my stress away. Acupuncture does help, but I can only go once a week. 

None of these things helps me to finish my house and get organized before my mom moves in later this month while her new house is being built. None of these things helps me prepare for my first semester as a graduate student. None of these things helps me with the stress of my job. None of these things helps us deal with our obnoxious neighbor.

And none of these things bring me a baby.

Waiting over the last few months has been therapeutic, yet it's also given me a lot of time to think about the future and all the "what ifs" that come with it. I guess I've been thinking about the what ifs a little too much over the past few days, which is part of the reason why I'm blah. And I think we've finally come to a decision about the future--one that answers a particular what if that I can't seem to get out of my mind:

What if IVF fails?

The answer to that question will have to wait for another day and another post.

Friday, July 9, 2010

the king

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a fan of Lebron James, for a number of reasons. I think "King" James is egocentric, as evidenced by his one-hour TV special to announce where he would play this fall. (Really? You need an entire hour to talk about your future in the NBA?) He hasn't won a title, yet is still considered the king. Of what, exactly, I'm not sure. And I'm a Magic fan, so his snub of the Magic players during the 2009 playoffs really got my blood boiling. Not to mention how completely fucked our priorities are as a country: where we'd rather pay a basketball star million of dollars a year, while our teachers, police officers, and firefighters make next to nothing to shape the future of our society and put their lives in danger for others. Or where Lebron's decision is top story on the evening news instead of one of the other ten dozen things in this country that need our attention

I digress.

Despite this, I did end up watching the special last night for the sake of my husband. (The things we do for love.) In a conversation with reporters following the announcement, ESPN showed a brief clip of James's jerseys burning in Cleveland. His response? "I have to do what makes me happy."

At that moment, I empathized with Lebron James.

Yes, he's selfish. Yes, they way he went about announcing his decision was classless. As one reporter here put it, no one goes on national television and breaks up with their wife. He should have done it quietly and privately, out of respect for the Cavs. But, in the same sense, I get it. This was probably not an easy decision for him. As he stated several times in interviews last night, it was never about the money. He could have easily stayed in Cleveland, made more money, and possibly never win a title. Instead, he chose to do what he felt was best for him and what he thought would get him to his ultimate goal: winning a championship.

In many ways, my journey with IF follows a similar path. I've spent so much time trying to have faith that what we were doing would lead us to our ultimate goal (having a baby), only to experience failure after failure. I've had more than one doctor promise that he could get me pregnant. I've been told, "things were perfect" . . . but they were only perfect on paper. And here I am: 27 cycles later and still wondering when it's ever going to be our turn. I've tried to make this work and doctors have tried to make it work for me. The fact is, a drastic changed must be made for us to have a baby. Right now, that drastic change is moving on to IVF. It will leave us with less money. It's a huge gamble. And not everyone is on board with our decision. But we needed to make the best decision for us--regardless of money, loyalty, or emotions.

Lebron tried. He stuck with it and gave it his all, but he alone cannot win a championship. And just like it takes a village to raise a child (or a team to win a trophy), it takes more than one person to make a child. In our case, it takes dozens. So, Lebron may not be the classiest sports star or the most humble, but I get where he's coming from: when you want something so badly and you've waited so long to get it, you'll pull out all of the stops to reach that goal. Because when Lebron is older and out of his prime, he doesn't want to look back and say he's "31 years old with bad knees and no ring."

Just like I don't want to look back and say, "I'm 41 years old with a bad uterus and no baby."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

winner winner, chicken dinner

I didn’t win the Hope Award for best blog.

RESOLVE e-mailed me yesterday and broke the news. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly disappointed. I’ve never won anything in my 25 years of living, and just the possibility of winning something based on my writing—which is a huge part of my life—felt wonderful. After my brief moment of self-pity ended, I pushed it into the back of my brain. By the time I got home and received love from my puppy and husband, it was a distant memory.

I think we all need to feel self-pity occasionally. In fact, I had an entire text message conversation about this yesterday with my SIL, Joey’s sister. She has cancer: stage 1 endometrial. I’ve hesitated writing about this, mostly because this is my blog and I always struggle with sharing people’s “business” in my forum. The last thing I want to do is go in-depth about someone else’s life without their permission with complete strangers reading. But I don’t think she would mind me writing about this.

We were talking about how it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself, especially for her as she’s emotionally and physically drained from treatment. She asked me if I understood that desire for self-pity.

Yes, I do. I understand that feeling of wanting things to go right for you, of wanting something good to happen.

We talked about spending time feeling sorry for you, but the struggle of balancing that feeling with staying positive. We walk on a delicate tightrope, all of us do. We all have moments of self-pity where we just want to ask, “Why me?” or say, “I really wanted that to happen.” This happens with cancer. I’ve seen it with my mom and I know that my SIL is going through those same motions. I’ve been through it myself with infertility and have watched others go through it as well with infertility and loss. I’m currently watching my best friend go through it as she struggles with her breakup.

We’re human. We’re allowed to love ourselves, and in the same sense allowed to feel sorry for ourselves. It’s okay to admit that we wanted things to happen a certain way, or we didn’t want them to happen at all. It’s okay to question God: what he’s doing and whether he even exists based on the hell you feel you live in. I do all the time.

It’s funny because most of us don’t enjoy pity from others, but I think we need to pity ourselves. We need those days where we lay on the couch with a box of chocolates and a box of tissues and watch sappy movies, just for a good excuse to cry. We need moments when someone pats us on the back and tells us we are awesome and loved. And that’s what I got when I arrived home last night: a lot of love—unconditional love from Danica and a wonderful, supportive husband who said, “I’m sad and disappointed. I wanted you to win. But I think you are amazing and I am so proud of you.”

No offense to RESOLVE, because I greatly appreciated the honor, but I can tell you with absolutely certainty that hearing those words meant so much more to me than winning any award. Having all of you read my story and support us through our journey? Also, better than winning any award. Your kind words and unending love is sometimes the only thing that makes me feel sane in a world full of infertile sanity. Thank you for voting for me, but, more importantly, thank you for being such amazing friends. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

It’s been over two months since I wrote my Project IF post. A lot has happened since then. We still don’t have a baby, but I can say with certainty that I’ve followed through with what I wrote in that post. I put myself out there and opened my blog up to friends and family members. I've shared my story with the hope that it helps others feel like they aren't so alone. I’m wearing the hole in my heart outside of my skin every single day and it feels good.

I’m doing the best I can with the hand I’ve been dealt. And I think that makes me a winner.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

magic, in a young girl's heart

Fireworks bring out something magical in my soul.

A little over three years ago, in late June of 2007, Joey and I ventured to Disney to enjoy one last day at the parks before our big move to Nashville. On that hot, sunny, summer day, he got down on one knee in front of Cinderella's castle at the Magic Kingdom and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. Other than our wedding day, the day he proposed was the most incredible day of my whole life. We celebrated our engagement with dinner and drinks at EPCOT and went back to the Magic Kingdom to watch the fireworks.

As the lights in the park went off and Tinkerbell "flew" down from the castle window to start the show, tears filled my eyes. That night, it felt as if the fireworks were just for us--a symbol of everything we were and everything we had yet to become: a symbol of hope for the future and a symbol that dreams, no matter what size, could still come true.

Over the last two years, I watched our dreams slowly become a distant memory with every negative pee stick and beta of zero. I felt stuck in the morning after: where dreams are just for fairy tales and where nothing will ever quite be the same.

I don't know that I will ever get back that incredible feeling I had after our engagement. It's still a warm memory in my heart, but it's unreasonable to go back to feeling as if anything is possible. I'm a different person than I was three years ago. I've grown up. Infertility has changed me for both the good and the bad. The fireworks that lived within my heart for 22 years slowly faded into the black hole of emptiness as cycle after cycle failed and as treatment after treatment proved unsuccessful.

This weekend, on July 4, we drove out to the beach. As I watched the fireworks light up the rainy, black sky, I couldn't help but feel at though this was a symbol of my renewed hope and confidence. Yes, the hole is still there. Yes, my heart is still crying on the inside, and sometimes the outside. But the fireworks are alive. Perhaps they were there all along and the clouds kept them hidden . . . or maybe I just wasn't looking hard enough to find them. Regardless of where they went, they've returned--and I truly hope that they stick around for a long, long time. Because my biggest fear next to never having children is never having magic inside of me again.

Because if this last-ditch effort fails, I'm terrified of living the rest of my life in that magic-less, rainy, black night.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

love, loss, and unanswered questions

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
 
Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote these lines in his poem, In Memoriam A.H.H. Tennyson penned the poem over a 17-year period for a friend who died suddenly from a brain hemorrhage at the age of 22. There are over 130 verses in this poem, but the one above is the most well-known.

Miscarriage is a word we've unfortunately used too often in this community, whether it be miscarriage after a natural pregnancy, miscarriage after a fertility treatment, an ectopic pregnancy, or repeat loss. It's safe to say that each of us knows someone affected by one of these things. We also know women who have experienced stillbirth and women whose babies were born into this world and taken just days, weeks, or months later due to complications. Some of you reading this have gone through one or more of these tragedies in your own lives.

The great part about this community is our ability to stick together and be there to support one another. We often aren't able to do this in a physical manner by offering shoulder to cry on or a hand to hold, but we do so the best we can virtually--by sending hugs, prayers, and sometimes even tears across the miles. Often times, it's difficult to know the right thing to say in these situations. You don't want to cause that person any more pain than they are already experiencing. Yet you want them to know that you are there to help them in any way possible.

This is especially the case if you have never been in a situation of loss. What do you say to someone who has lost a child? To someone who has lost their miracle? To someone who has lost multiple miracles?

I've never experienced loss, at least not in that way. My grandparents are all gone and have been for several years now. But they were older. As much as it hurt to lose them, they had lived a full life. They watched their children grow up, marry, and have children of their own. And, in some instances, they watched their grandchildren have children. Their deaths weren't easy for me, but they had been given incredible lives and many years to make their marks on the world and on the lives of those around them.

These babies, these losses, never had that chance.

After my third IUI, when I saw a faint line on that HPT, Kelly asked me if I would feel better knowing whether that was a chemical pregnancy rather than a faulty test. I didn't hesitate to answer, "No, it would have made me feel worse--knowing that I had finally achieved pregnancy only to lose it would be devastating."

Yet, there are still people who offer advice to the contrary. They tell women "at least they know they can get pregnant" or "perhaps this is a blessing." But is it? Can anyone honestly say that miscarrying a child is a blessing? I keep reading the comments on my What did you say? post over and over again. I'm amazed at all of them, but especially at those toward people who have experienced loss. The more I read, the more frustrated I become over the complete lack of sympathy people have toward the loss of a child in any form. At what age does loss become appropriate for ignorant people to recognize--20 weeks? Viability? Birth? At what point do people stop justifying and begin sympathizing? 

And what about Alfred, Lord Tennyson? I think his words have validity in many cases. I'm so thankful for the love of those people in my life who are already gone, especially my grandparents. Their love shaped me in so many ways. But to say it's better to have loved and lost a child . . . I can't comprehend that (and I'm not sure Alfred imagined his words would be used to comfort so many of you who have lost your babies). I guess I'm asking all of you who have experienced loss: is it better to loved and lost than to never loved at all? Do those words make it easier or more difficult?

Last week, I found out my cousin and his wife were pregnant on the same day they found out they were most likely miscarrying. Doctor confirmed their loss yesterday and tomorrow is the D&C. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they cope with this loss--the loss of their baby and the loss of a love that was never given the chance to grow.