I’m sorry for not writing yesterday… I know I said I would and people were waiting… it’s just… this isn’t the post I expected to write.
Remember this little ball of cells?
Well, s/he appears to have decided to stick around.
We had a positive pregnancy test yesterday.
So positive that while we still have to test again tomorrow to make sure my HCG levels are increasing, when I asked the nurse what the chances of a false positive were, her reply was, “You’re definitely pregnant.”
She had me re-order the progesterone and gave me all the pregnancy instructions.
(She wouldn’t have done that if it weren’t really truly true, would she?)
Shock. Happy shock. But shock.
And as happy as I am, I still find myself wary. Very wary. Wery wery wary. Seth and I have to decided to believe it fully after Friday morning’s test… but there’s definitely a big fat piece of us that I think believes even now.
We’re so happy. Honestly. Crazy, ridiculously, over-the-moon happy. But then there’s this nagging bit of guilt — how did we get so lucky when our odds were so low? And who have I left behind in the trenches of infertility? And the thought of making someone feel bad because of our pregnancy… because I know that feeling. I know it so so so well. The heartache. And I don’t want that for anyone. Ever.
Also the fear. Because not all pregnancies result in babies. How tenuous is that little ball of cells in there — has it latched on well? Are we due to have the rug torn out from underneath our feet somewhere else down the line? Like maybe even tomorrow when we do the confirmatory test?
Scared and guilty. Worried and wary. But so undeniably, crazy, ecstatically, furiously (shout out to Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess, for that adjective) happy.
So I wasn’t sure what to say, but here was my little page-a-day calendar to the rescue once again:
(Also, self-done, Pinterest-inspired, sparkle gradient manicure — like a party on my nails and the color is called “marshmallow” so I’m in love with it.)
So there’s the happy news! (Probable) IVF success… can you believe it?
The caveat, of course, is the confirmation tomorrow. Who knows? Maybe the HCG won’t have risen 50% and the “definitely positive” we got form the nurse wasn’t actually so definite. It’s ok to continue to be reserved a bit, I think. I’ll let you know for sure… promise.
At the end of the race, there are almost always bananas.
At the end of the rainbow, there is supposed to be a pot of gold.
At the end of a journey, a destination.
And at the end of the five stages of grief, there lies acceptance.
I don’t know that I’ve ever grieved heartily and with enough awareness as an adult to really notice any given stage of grief. Not until yesterday… when in less than 24 hours I managed to go from stage 1 (blissful denial) to rapid vacillation between stages 2, 3, and 4 in a torrent of tears and snot (so much snot) before I finally settled into a puffy-eyed, rosy lipped (my lips get very bright pink when I cry a lot) depression.
So, what happened, exactly? We’ll do it stage by stage.
I had a lovely time on Sunday night, the night before the embryo transfer. My cousin-in-law Megan had her second annual Take Steps for Crohn’s and Colitis fundraiser at UPaint and Party in Wausau. Almost everyone painted a gorgeous picture of a lovely little bird silhouetted against a bright sky flying from it’s cage. My painting somehow got a dementor in it, but I still had a blast. It was nothing but fun and I was in good spirits about Monday’s transfer. Yes, I only had three embryos, but it could be great! That was three chances — making for a potential family of five humans and my sweet Curly girl to boot. I was good.
Even Monday morning, though nervous and stressed about heading out the door a bit late, I was still making The Jerk-based jokes with my family.
And that’s all I need…
We arrived in Madison a mere 4 minutes late for our scheduled appointment. Big thanks to the state of Wisconsin for upping our speed limits to 70 mph — big help yesterday. The nurse brought us back to the procedure area, same as before, and began to collect vitals, provide information, prep us with our gowns and caps and booties and all that… and I noticed that all the while, she kept saying “the embryo.” Part of me assumed it was because they were planning to just transfer one, which was always the goal. A much darker part of me knew what it really meant though.
There was only one embryo left. Two of the three we had, the three I had been banking on, had stopped developing. Just stopped. We were going to transfer only one because we had only one.
And that one? Not even ideal. Not sure on the details… and this image means pretty much nothing to me (no wonder they call it a ball of cells, eh?) so I can’t exactly glean anything from that, but something about it not being as developed as it should have been — an early blast instead of a mature/late/something one. I don’t know. It was hard to hear the embryologist over the buzzing in my ears that always comes when I start trying to hold back tears.
I was so unbelievably, inconsolably (even by Valium) sad. And angry. ONE?!?! After ALL THAT?! After all we had been through, all the thousands of dollars and hundreds of injections and ultrasounds and trips and tears and everything… just one. One shot. One sub-par shot.
But we did SO much. We’ve been through SO FREAKING MUCH. And so many people who do NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING, but get it on once or twice have babies all the dang time. ALL THE TIME. Why are they special? Why am I not? Why are they so obnoxiously #blessed and is #cursed even a thing?! Because I obviously am. What’s wrong with me that even with thousands and thousands of dollars of medical intervention this is still the best I can do??? One.
And if that one doesn’t work? There’s nothing in the freezer to try again. Nothing. We have to start over from zero. Physically, emotionally, financially from zero. Do it alll over again. And I know I’m too close, and I know this isn’t where we are yet, but I can’t. I shouldn’t have to! I don’t want to!! It’s not FAIR!!! (Which is truly the worst thing you can say as an adult because by this point in my life I am well aware that life is not fair and nobody every said it would be.)
But it only takes one. One is enough. One is better than zero and I’ve prayed and hoped and begged and done everything right. Everything I could do. I would do anything — hasn’t what I’ve done so far proven that? Wouldn’t we be good parents? Don’t we deserve a family?
Even just this weekend, the priest talked about the little boy who made a miracle happen by bringing Jesus his meager loaves and fishes. I’ve brought him mine, haven’t I? With everything I have done, all that I’ve been through… it’s time for our miracle now, isn’t it?
And there it is… the little embryo between the two air bubbles.
Or so they tell me. I wouldn’t know. As far as I’m concerned, this actually could be a print out of an ultrasound from a cow and I’d be none the wiser. But that has to be good, right? That you can see where it is? Inside me? Please, I’ll do anything to keep it there, to make it grow, to let it be life.
But then again, it really doesn’t matter anyway. It’s out of my hands and come next Wednesday, when we can finally test, this will all be over. Yes, pregnancy is a possibility. But really? If after all that, we were left with one embryo. Just the one, just hanging in there, is it really very likely that we’ll be pregnant at all? I have lost my hopefulness, my optimism. The best of it, the stuff on the inside. I have to keep saying to everyone, “Oh yes! It’s very exciting! We could be pregnant right now– not too much longer ’til we find out! Keeping our fingers crossed!!” When really, I know otherwise. I know, you know? And the best news of all — my attitude will not change anything and if ONE MORE MOTHER EFFING PERSON TELLS ME OTHERWISE I AM GOING TO FREAKING LOSE IT. (Oops… that bit might have been anger again.) You cannot visualize or positive energy or pray or wish or hope yourself into pregnancy. It’s biology. And my biology hasn’t really felt like cooperating so far. It is what it is (sorry, Aimee — I know you hate that phrase, but isn’t it the best depressive phrase kind of ever?) and I am where I am and what’s done is done and it’ll all be over soon.
Back and forth and back and forth, sometimes anger, sometimes bargaining, sometimes depression over a frightening number of cycles since yesterday afternoon. And then sometime this morning, as I chatted with my friend Marie (Seth, if we ever do have a baby, her middle name (or even his middle name, to be honest) is going to have to be Marie — fair warning) about normal things, the things we chat about all the time, and I felt my funk start to lift just a bit I started thinking about what acceptance might actually mean. And I realized that Seth’s Aunt Becky had kind of already set me up for it a while ago, believe it or not. Probably on purpose too. She’s super wise and all knowing like that. Like Dumbledore. A doctor even, the good kind, PhD-style like me. Her PhD isn’t actually in theology, although as a self-taught theologian she’s quite impressive, if I do say so myself.
A few weeks back she sent me a link to this article about the prayer of relinquishment:
Maybe I’m really late to the game and this is old news for everybody else, but in this moment, I’m so crazy grateful to Aunt Becky, PhD, for sharing it with me and I can’t recommend reading the whole thing enough if you’re in any capacity inclined toward spirituality. It’s so good.
This is the crux of it all, at least to me and right now:
“…it says, ‘This is my situation at the moment. I’ll face the reality of it. But I’ll also accept willingly whatever a loving Father sends.’ Acceptance, therefore, never slams the door on hope.
Yet even with hope our relinquishment must be the real thing, because this giving up of self-will is the hardest thing we human beings are ever called on to do.”
So as Catherine Marshall says Mrs. Nathaniel Hawthorne said once upon a time… why should I doubt the goodness of God?
I wear my bracelet all the time, the one that says “Always.” as a reminder that God is good. Always. No matter what. Why would this moment be any different? Pregnant or not, my life will go on. Pregnant or not, Seth and I will still love each other and we’re really lucky to have that. Pregnant or not, our little family will continue to flourish and decide what to do from there. All I can do right now is accept what is to come, relinquish the notion that I have any control over it, and carry on for the next several days until we have an actual answer to which I can react.
Yes, it’s hard. So so so hard. But as Melissa told me last night, even Jesus got angry. Why shouldn’t I? God gave me all these emotions and I’m free to feel them. They’re not wrong. They’re normal. And this is so hard. It’s no wonder that I feel angry and sad and depressed and worried and even hungry at times. (So so hungry.) We feel things. It’s what we do.
So stages of grief and all that aside… we had an embryo (i.e. the embryo) transferred to my uterus yesterday. At present, it’s a little ball of cells floating in space and the hope is that it will eventually implant into the uterine lining, effectively establishing a viable pregnancy. I don’t know how likely that is or is not. All I know is that on August 5th, we’ll do a blood test for HCG — a pregnancy test (not the pee on a stick kind). A negative is the real thing. Negative = negative. A positive could still be a false positive though, so if we do get a positive result, we have to do another blood test two days later on August 7th to look for rising levels of HCG, which will effectively confirm the positive result. It would be lovely to think that maybe I could look for signs and symptoms of pregnancy in the interim, but with the hormone overload my body is currently going through, I already have just about all of them and there’s no way any sign of actual pregnancy could be differentiated from the craziness happening in my body baby or no… so we wait.
Wait and accept and relinquish and let that little bit of hope in because that’s pretty much all we can do.
It’s only been 5 days since the last time we chatted… and yet, three of them have been some of the roughest of my life, so it’s felt considerably longer. Can I get a wah wah?
Wednesday morning was our egg retrieval surgery. As anxious as I was about the procedure, by Tuesday night my abdomen was in so much pain that all I wanted was to be knocked out.
We arrived at Generations at 7:00 am and by 8:30, I was in surgery. It was quick… especially to me as I’m quite susceptible to anesthesia… and we were back on the road headed home before 10:00.
Before the surgery, Seth, the nurse, and I made our guesses about how many eggs they would retrieve. I guessed 8, Seth 9, and Jen, RN, guessed 12 — double digits are ideal. Sadly, however, I was right. By the time I woke up, the eggies had been counted and 8 was the total. I was ok with 8 on Wednesday. We were told to expect fertilization of approximately 50%. I was even ok with 4 little embryos. (This is foreshadowing.)
Wednesday wasn’t so bad. I wasn’t in a ton of pain… a little, of course, as the only way to the ovaries is through the back wall of the vagina (oy) and the extreme ovarian swelling isn’t expected to decrease for at least a couple of weeks, but I was on good drugs and I sent most of the day in and out of sleep.
Sometime well after midnight the headache started to creep in. And it grew and grew and grew to blinding pain. As I lay in bed Thursday morning, trying to crawl my way out form under the pillows piled on my head, my phone rang — it was the embryologist from the lab at Generations calling to update me on our embryos. Of the 8 eggs retrieved, only 6 were mature enough for fertilization. Following sperm injection, only three eggs were actually fertilized.
And my head was pounding and the room was spinning and I thought for sure I was going to vomit. I stumbled through the getting-ready-for-work motions, crying all the while… I was so sick. And I was so disappointed.
In the end, I didn’t make it to work. Instead, I spent another day taking Percocet… in and out of sleep… with a box of tissues next to me… trying to talk myself out of disappointment, out of pain, and back to reality. To calm.
I drank a lot of gatorade, ingested a lot of salt (high levels of estrogen can make your vessels leaky, the salt helps them retain fluid– another stupid thing), laid around, and by Thursday evening, the headache had mostly subsided and I had talked myself into a state of satisfaction with my three maybe babies. Three is better than two… better than one… definitely better than zero. We still have a chance. Three chances, even. And with the lessening of the pain in my head, I became more and more able to handle the emotional toll as well.
After a good night’s sleep on Thursday, I woke up early on Friday and made it into work where I intended to spend a full day being as productive as possible. Except by 11:00 am, the headache was back with a vengeance. I wasn’t honestly certain that I could drive, but I couldn’t get a hold of Seth and I needed to get home so I stumbled to my car, the bile rising in my throat, not helped by a wicked case of hiccups, and somehow made it home to my bed where I laid like a corpse with pillow over my eyes, riding the waves of pain. By noon, it was so bad that Seth forced me to call Generations, who then forced me to go straight to urgent care over concerns about a clot… another stupid estrogen thing. I spent a few more minutes crying over how much I did not want to go sit in urgent care with this insane headache before I set off. Long story short, I passed the tests, not a clot, took a massive dose of Aleve after talking to the nurse at Generations again (which is ok until embryo transfer), and spent yet another day on the couch in and out of sleep.
Another day wallowing in complete self pity.
I’m not strong anymore. I feel so done. Like my body and my mind have had just about enough.
But not yet.
On Thursday, in the midst of the headache and everything else, we started intramuscular progesterone injections. The progesterone is in oil and gets injected into the gluteus maximus — I can’t do it myself. Fortunately, Seth is a champ, and he’s done a really good job. I took heed of all the warnings and we’ve warmed it up in our hands first, used a sharpie to keep the targets marked, and spent a few minutes sitting on a heating pad afterward. So far so good.
On Monday, we head back to Generations for the embryo transfer. Day 5 embryo transfer, as opposed to the ideal day 3 transfer, can supposedly increase your chances of success if everything else is basically against you. When we get their on Monday, the doctor will discuss with us how the embryos look and how many they recommend transferring and all that. Then I pop a valium to relax my uterus, they pop the maybe baby (or babies) in, and we spend another two weeks waiting.
I guess the point of all this woe-is-me is to say that, honestly, I’m not nearly as calm, cool, or collected as I would really like to be. As I wish I were. I feel like I’m barely holding on. I’m feeling super sorry for myself and disappointed in the way things have gone so far. Although outwardly, I tried to keep my expectations low, in my deepest heart of hearts I was hoping for so much more. For eggs in the double digits. A fertilization rate that exceeded the norm. And for a big batch of maybe babies that we could store safely in the freezer and use to grow our family one transfer at a time.
But that’s not life. Certainly not mine. If things worked out that way, I wouldn’t be here at all — taking these desperate measures to have a family in the first place. That’s reality.
Honestly, I’m doing a little better today. I woke up early and went for a walk with the pup. I mowed the lawn. I made some cookies and a delicious dinner for Seth and his dad (who slaved all day long working in the garage). I took myself for a pedicure… and splurged on the “deluxe,” complete with hot stone massage and paraffin treatment. Most importantly, I didn’t cry even once. That was especially nice. And tomorrow’s another day.
I’m currently listening to The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. It’s so excellent. A million and one times better than stupid The Girl on the Train, which was in no way redeemed even after ignoring the whole “pathetic, fat Rachel” (in a British accent, even! Ray-chul…) thing that set me off initially (I finished it this morning). I knew Sue Monk Kidd wouldn’t let me down though. Not after the beautiful Bees and Mermaids. In fact, early on, I fell completely in love with this line:
“There’s no pain on earth that doesn’t crave a benevolent witness.”
And it’s so appropriate right now that I can barely find the words.
Except words are my thing, so I’ll manage something…
Infertility is a super painful and super personal thing. There’s not a lot I can do about it and certainly nothing that you can do for me. So why talk about it? Why share my story? Why have the conversation at all?
Lots of people have said that it’s because I’m brave and strong (which makes me feel embarrassed and super impostery). That they’re thinking of me and praying for me, sending me positive brain waves and maybe even some pixie dust or something (which makes me feel so unworthy). So many really, really nice things. Really genuine, kind, heart-felt, loving things.
It was all so nice that for a second I let it get dark… because sometimes nice makes me go there. And nice laced with hormones? Yeah…
I’m not brave or strong. I’m just honest. And wordy. And maybe people think I’m only saying it so that they’ll think I am, in fact, brave or strong. But that’s not true. I’m really, really not.
And maybe I’m soaking up too much nice, too much love, too many prayers and positive thoughts, getting high on all the pixie dust. All those things that could be better spent on someone else who really is suffering.
Maybe no one really wants to hear any of it at all and the comments and likes and texts and emails and phone calls and little IG hearts are all just gratuitous — a way of saying FINE. Talk about it enough and we’ll acknowledge you, but only because we feel like we have to. I imagine myself up on my tippy toes, fists balled up at my chest, eyes squeezed shut, screaming “acknowledge meeeeeeeeeee!”
Maybe my mom and dad resent the time, the plane tickets, the boring week of nothing but travel to and from the top of the middle to the bottom of the middle of Wisconsin, over and over again. Nothing but work and tv and movies and whining and injections in between. All without any guarantee of actual, living, breathing, human grandchildren in the end. And they’ve got some of those already. Really cute ones… wouldn’t their time be better spent with them???
God, I’m so annoying. So self-indulgent. Self-pitying. Self, self, self-ish.
But then Sue Monk Kidd said it — said what it really was. Infertility is painful. So painful. Emotionally, spiritually, financially, physically. And when I talked about it, out loud (on the internet), I was really asking for a benevolent witness.
And I got one. I got ten. And so many more. I got so very many benevolent witnesses. I got you. My goodness, I got so lucky.
It’s really hard not to be super emotional right now. Every word, every comment, every like, every text, email, phone call, whatever, has been unreal. So appreciated. All I wanted was a benevolent witness and I got so much more. Benevolence in the extreme. So when my friend Erika offered to wear ugly shoes if only it would help me to be a mom… and my grandma told me that it’s at times like these that she still misses her mom and was so glad my mom was here with me… and my cousin Beth(y) offered up her house for overnight stays in Madison along with best wishes and other nice words… and my in-laws made a special trip to and from Marshfield just to shuttle my mom back to the airport… and so many other big and little things (that all feel like big things to me) in the past couple of weeks… oh the tears. So many tears. Big fat tears of thankfulness and gratitude and what-on-earth-did-I-do-to-deserve-to-be-surrounded-by-so-much-kindness-ness.
I really wish I had brought my mascara with me this morning… could definitely have used a touch up before heading straight into the office.
So, by way of a long and emotional outpouring of gratitude for the insanely generous support you’ve given me, seriously, even just by reading… another quick update.
Today’s appointment at Generations confirmed that my eggy little ovaries are ready for the trigger shot. Seth’s currently setting up a Dexter-style kill room (11% off at Menard’s, perfect time to stock up on plastic sheeting) and at precisely 8:30 pm, we’ll do a big injection of HCG, which will set us up for egg retrieval exactly 36 hours later on Wednesday morning. The best part of it being trigger day: one more injection tonight (as opposed to three) and a completely injection-free day tomorrow. My super sore abdomen is already trembling with relief. (Actually, that’s probably just more fluid on it’s way… but we’ll call it relief for the moment.)
I’m definitely at a peak level of insanity — a state of nervous excitement under hormonal extremes that is entirely novel. (FYI: normal pre-menopausal estradiol levels range from 30 – 400 pg/ml… mine are currently upwards of 2000 pg/ml and on the exponentially upward part of the drug-induced curve, so…) I feel so excited by the possibility, by the fact that my response so far has been “textbook” (oh how I Hermione-ly loved hearing those words come out of Dr. Stanic’s mouth this morning), and that we really are just about to be with our maybe baby. I also feel terrified that it’s only maybe and that I have to have surgery on Wednesday and that there’s nothing I can do to make anything better, but then again, also relieved that there’s nothing I can do to make it worse.
I keep saying “we’re almost there,” but honestly, every step of the way has been a choice. A conscious decision to do this thing, despite all the different varieties of tough, because it’s something that we think will be worth it in the end. That our end is as a family of more than two humans, one puppy girl, and several semi-sentient plants that hate me just a little bit for not being watered quite as often as they ought to be. As such, we’re never really “almost there”… we’re just there. In the thick of it. Choice or not, though, it has been painful.
For this pain, my soul has craved a benevolent witness. I so appreciated those words, that sentiment, and that I have absolutely not been disappointed. Thanks. Seriously. Thank you.
Remember when I was all pumped about my sweet three day reprieve between the ultrasound I had last Wednesday and the one the following Saturday? Right. Well, thank goodness my mom is here, because we made the same trip, even earlier, again on Sunday morning. And I’m headed back down again tomorrow.
Thank goodness my mom is here — the company was so very welcome in the car.
My mumsy dearest and I both super dig reading and thought that nice book on tape might be a good way to pass the time in the car. We spent some time on Audible and went with The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins on account of everyone in the world has been raving about it. Seemed like a real good choice.
The main character in the book is named Rachel. Like me. She wanted to have a family. Like me. So she and her husband did IVF. Like me.
And the IVF fails and she can’t get pregnant and goes into a deep depression, becomes a raging alcoholic, destroys her marriage, loses her job, and spends her time desperately seeking a way back into her ex’s life all the while being talked about as “poor… sad… fat… Rachel.”
Three trips down and back and we’re just about done though. Thank goodness. A bit situtationally inappropriate.
But back to the issue at hand: an update on this Rachel’s IVF.
On Saturday, Dr. Stanic did my ultrasound and he started by asking how I was doing and quoting Winston Churchill — something about how he could promise only pain and suffering. Groovy. But my follicles are follicling and that’s cool.
Today (Sunday), we went back. Another ultrasound and some more blood work… New day, same story. Follicles follicling and estradiol increasing and we’re getting closer to the trigger shot.
So close to the trigger shot, that today, I got my target:
Sharpie. On my backside. X does NOT mark the spot — just a location finder. Needle goes in the circle. Time for Seth to take the reigns! Like being hazed by the world’s meanest sorority.
Unfortunately, no trigger shot quite yet — hopefully tomorrow. I’ve got to be back in Madison for an ultrasound at 8:30 am tomorrow (a whole hour and a half later than today! sweet sweet sleep!!!) and more blood work and hopefully when they call in the afternoon, they’ll schedule my trigger for Monday night and my surgery for Wednesday morning, 36 hours later.
So, other than progress, how’s it going? Well… my abdomen hurts for a thousand and one reasons. I’m kind of miserable. And sooooo so tired.
My mommy dearest leaves tomorrow, but I’m glad she was here while she was and Seth and Curls are back home to keep me company. Also, everyone seems to really understand how important dresses (minimal touching of the tummy) and ice cream (so delicious) are to me right now, so that’s lovely. Last but not least, we watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and then The SECOND Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Joe Dirt, so I’ve been all kinds of cinematically inspired. Almost there… almost there.
Well, I can cross “be an injectable drug user” off my list of things I’d maybe like to try someday. I’ll stick with pills it it ever comes to that, thank you very much. It might be a bit more expensive that way, but certainly more sanitary and most definitely worth it to avoid becoming the bruised up pin cushion I’ve become. And without the stellar psychotropic effects, even. All the lows, lots of the crazy, none of the highs. This is bull.
But it’s for a maybe baby, I tell myself. And right. That’ssssss good. The thing I’m hoping for. So.
Moving right along. Just keep swimming. Keep on keepin’ on.
The Muppets. Dori. Joe Dirt. The movies are full of such wise people, no?
The mood swings really are bizarre. Mostly I’m tired and bloated and blah. Although on Tuesday, after my mom showed up, I was positively buoyant. That’s when we talked about being fat and how it was cool. Except that two days later, on Thursday morning, I put on a dress to wear to work and just about lost it about the way my big-fat-stupid-ugly tummy looked in it. Took it off. (Hypocrite.) Put on some pants instead and went off to work.
Also a shirt. I wore a shirt to work too.
On Wednesday, I got up at 4:00 am and headed to Madison for an ultrasound and blood work. I had 4 large-ish follicles and 3 more on their way — that’s 7 eggs so far, woot woot! When the results of the blood work came back later in the afternoon, Generations called to tell me that my hormones were right on the money and so I was granted not just a two day reprieve (which is really the best you can hope for) but THREE. Three days until I have to return to Madison on Saturday. Oh sweet mother of all that is good. I cannot tell you what a relief that was. So to Madison and back before 10 am on Wednesday and then I headed to work. Where I struggled mightily to keep my eyes open for about 6 hours before I headed home and basically passed out on the bed for another two. Thankfully (also not), my mom woke me up at 7:00 pm to make sure I didn’t miss my evening injections and I grudgingly poked myself three more times before getting back on the up-and-down rollercoaster of emotion that is my mind.
My mom and I went to dinner (yay!) but I was disappointed by what I ordered (boo!) so we went and got ice cream (yessssss!) but the a-holes didn’t have any of the chocolate lactose-free ice cream (rage!) but I did find some chocolate-flavored coconut ice cream (ok…) and a gluten free baking mag that looked kind of awesome (alright, alright…) and we made it home without a meltdown where I had to work some more (ugh ugh ugh) but I did it while watching Frozen and my mom tolerated me singing along the whole time (let it goooooo!) and then back to bed before another day, another round of injections, and another 24 hours of Cray Cray McBray Bray.
With the exception of Cedar Point’s Iron Dragon, I’ve really never liked roller coasters.
Granted, most roller coasters don’t give every third rider a baby at the end, so…
I called myself fat yesterday and lots of people were super concerned. Self-deprecating, yes, kind of… but let me assure you, Fat Girl Walking was merely a genius play on Dead Man Walking and, finally, at 31 years old, I’m done being upset about the word fat. Done-zo.
It’s true. I’m bigger than your average bear. Now.
I wasn’t always. In fact, when I look back on photos from when I first started thinking I was fat, I can only groan/shake my head/be pissed off at all those stupid wasted years of fat-shaming, fat concern, fat obsession when I was not, in fact, fat at all.
Except what if I had been? What about the times when I was? Because, let’s be honest, my weight has gone up and down and up and down a lot of times over the course of my life. And I think that’s normal, isn’t it. Puberty’s not exactly fun for anyone and most of us get at least a bit chubby for a minute there.
Even if I had been fat then, and even now that I am, my body is still kind of rocking it. I can run for-evs (like I said yesterday) and mow my lawn and vacuum my floors and cook and bake and dance and relax and blog and read and write and talk and and and… my body does all those things. It provides my soul with pretty cush digs, to be honest, and right now, especially, it deserves my dang RESPECT.
Because dang, it’s holding up. IVF meds are no joke. NO JOKE. And my body is going through some stuff, but remarkably, my body is handling it like a champ and despite a level of discomfort the likes of which I have never experienced, exactly, I’m doing ok.
Fat or not, I can appreciate that, the champ-i-ness of my bod. So I have to be ok with the word fat — I have to turn it into just another characteristic. I’m blonde-haired and green eyed. I have size 11 feet and curly hair. And I’m fat. It’s just another thing — a size XL, 14/16, bigger than your average bear. It’s not a bad word unless I let it be a bad word. I choose not to let it. (Anymore.)
So, pretty please, don’t worry about the word fat. Also, don’t worry about me because my mommy came to Wisconsin today and she’s taking real good care of me. We’re taking a road trip to Madison at 4 am tomorrow — eggs, eggs, baby!!
And PS: If I was worried about being fat, now would be extra, extra rough because ah dang… my abdomen is getting blooooooated. There’s not sucking this beast in. It is what it is and the only level of comfort comes from just letting it be. Oh ovaries, you better be growing me lots and lots of eggs.
Walking is super great exercise. I know that, I’d tell you that, and I’d be the first in line to give kudos to anyone who walks regularly. It’s great!
But I’m not a walker. I’m a runner. Granted, I’m a big girl, a clydesdale, Athena, whatever the term du jour, so I’m not a particularly amazing runner. I’m never going to win a race. I’m just happy to finish. But I always take pride in the fact that no matter how slow I go, I can run and run and run forever. (Not actually forever, but for a long time. Slowly.)
True, once upon a time, I used running as a means to punish myself — I binged and then purged via exercise. I ran to be thin. And then, once I was thin, I ran to be thinner. But that’s not why I run now. Now, I run because I like the way it makes me feel. I like to pound the pavement, to hoof it up big hills and fly down the other side, to feel the sun on my face or the wind at my back, to get the miles under my feet. Yes, I’m fat and I’m slow, but I run. I think that’s kind of awesome and it makes me proud.
Turns out, however, that when you’re in the midst of hormone-induced insanity a la IVF, you cannot run. It can cause ovarian torsion, which in addition to sounding horrifying, actually is an emergent medical situation and basically the last thing you want when you’re trying to get your ovaries to cooperate lots-of-eggs-style.
Yoga can do the same thing. And kick boxing. And basically any other rapid movement type exercise. Or heavy lifting, bending, twisting, etc.
So walking is pretty much it. Which is great, like I said, except… I’m having a hard time with that. Being a fat girl walking.
It was tempting for me to keep run run running (slowly) and then to make the change only when I had to, but recognizing that throwing additional changes on top of the uncertainty of a new (and intense) hormonal milieu was probably a bad idea, I decided to get on top of it… to start walking. To be a walker.
On May 30th, I participated in the 14th Annual Marshfield Dairyfest Cheese Chase. I completed my 5 miles, totally rocked the dang thing (in my slow, but steady way) and called it good. Good until all the IVF mumbo jumbo is over and we either have a baby or we don’t.
And now is the time — baby or not time. As I mentioned. Still scary. Still sad. Waaaay harder than I thought it would be. But also easier.
Sort of like running. A lot like walking.
Either way, you put one foot in front of the other. Either way, you’re moving forward. It’s hard to run, physically, but it feels so good emotionally. It’s hard to walk, emotionally, but it’s pretty dang easy, physically.
IVF is hard both emotionally and physically.
I keep crying.
My face is breaking out. Like crazy, pizza face breaking out.
My tummy is so crazy tender.
I’m bloated to the nth degree.
And it’s all only supposed to get worse. For a while.
Amongst it all, I’m a fat girl walking.
Hard as it all is (see above), there’s some things that make it ok too. Mostly it’s YOU guys. You’re freaking amazing. The support, the love, the encouragement and best wishes. Dang.
My mom’s coming tomorrow to hang with me as I drive to and from Madison over and over again until surgery.
Seth is sending me lots and lots of pics of my baby girl:
And the Lemas got me everything I needed for a relaxing daily massage in the comfort of my own living room!
Daily, in theory, except I worked up a little bruise on my right shoulder trying to get a knot out. He he. This thing is soooo nice.
But even better, was the note that came with it:
Fat Girl Walking.
With this much support… I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.
Remember the show Malcolm in the Middle? You know, before Brian Cranston was a psychotic meth head and back when he was just a suburban dad trying to make ends meet while honing his speed walking career…
Regardless of whether you remember it, there’s this excellent line that Reese, older of the middle two brothers, had in one episode that my friend and former roommate Steph and I (Steph-and-I… Steph-an-ie… Stephanie…) just adored that went a little something like this:
“My God. Women are the cows of people.”
As I chatted with my cousins-in-law this afternoon (because Seth’s cousin Meg says she and I are cousins-in-law, and Gary and Holly are Seth’s cousin and Seth’s cousin’s wife, respectively, so by extension, also cousins-in-law to me…), I realized how very true that is. Gary, the Gary of Gary’s Dairy in Halder, WI, was super inquisitive about my IVF drugs, you see… because it’s the same stuff he gives his ladies. And all of his ladies (with the exception of the lovely Holly and their crazy baby girl Ella) are cows.
My God. Women are the cows of people.
I mean, of course they are on account of bull : cow : : man : woman (thank the good lord I never have to take the SAT again), but the fact that me and the cows are kinda doing the same dang thing? Well. That was something.
Perhaps if I mosey my way into a stanchion, Gary can give me a hand with some of the injections…
So, yeah, all that to say… July has begun, and so has IVF. It’s been super stressful and emotional and crazy already. I won’t bore you with the details, which have been stressful and emotional and crazy really only to me (what do you mean you’re not shipping one of my drugs, pharmacy?! also… I got super defensive during a mandated appointment with a clinical psychologist and made Seth very uncomfortable), but no matter, it has started.
On Sunday, I took my last birth control pill. On Tuesday morning, I got up at 4:00 am and drove to Madison for my baseline ultrasound and blood work. Tomorrow morning, I start injecting myself with some stuff. And on Saturday evening, I add more stuff. Four injections a day plus lots and lots of ultrasounds until they tell me to use what I can only describe as “the big needle” to deliver a trigger shot (go eggs go!!) and then surgery. They say I can expect headaches first, then bloating, then hot flashes and tiredness and moodiness and breakouts (and probably freakouts) and so on until the week of the 19th when I have surgery to retrieve the eggs my body is supposed to be cooking up. Followed by fertilization, implantation, and the dreaded two-week-wait.
That stanchion, a nice pile of hay and oats right in my face, access to water ad libitum… it’s all looking pretty good right now. Better than living real life around all of the above, don’t you think? I wonder if Gary has some space… moo?
But, I guess, in that respect at least, I’m not a cow. And I have a lot more control, a lot more space to emote, and significantly more complex responsibilities (p < 0.05).
The craziest part of it all is the uncertainty. I don’t know how I’m going to feel or how I’m going to react and I’m not super great at dealing with uncertainty or with feelings. So. There’s that. Also, I tend to be very black and white with myself — I’m either doing awesome or suck, suck, suck at everything, which leaves very little room for grace.
So what to do about all of that? I don’t really know. I can’t run (original title of this post: Fat Girl Walking, but I’m gonna go ahead and save that for another day) or do yoga. I have been spending a lot of time eating lactose and being sorry for it later, but I suspect that’s also a bad plan and maybe even some sort of subconscious punishment for not doing as well as I want to be doing. But I am trying (trying) to do some productive and healthy things — I read Brene Brown, I subscribed to Headspace and practice mindfulness, I listen to Dean Koontz books while taking long long walks around town, I keep a gratitude journal, I read Shauna Niequist’s Savor over breakfast every morning, and perhaps most importantly, I sometimes find the strength to say these words:
I’m scared. I’m sad. This is hard.
And Tom replied, “here’s a picture of our niece’s disturbingly realistic horse:”
And I smiled even though I was scared and sad and this is hard. Where “this” refers to IVF, not the horse’s genitalia. Obviously.
This afternoon, I had a meeting with a child and adolescent psychologist. It was a legit work meeting, not actually a therapy session (as I’m neither child nor adolescent), but the psychologist I was talking to went through IVF herself and knows about my deal so we spent the first couple minutes talking about that. Free therapy — woot woot! Seriously though, my favorite thing she always says is that despite all she went through (and it was a lot), if she could go back, she wouldn’t change a thing. Not a single thing. Not the procedures, the dollars, the injections, the travel, the stress… nothing. She says that every step was necessary for the next step and that she learned something every day and that it was all worth it.
Come to think of it, even though I don’t have what I so desperately want, the thing that’s supposed to make it all worth it, (yet), I already kind of agree. Every day I am better at handling the unexpected. At appreciating my strength. At giving myself grace, patience, respect. At giving my body grace, patience, respect. I appreciate better the complexity of fertility and family and adulthood. I am more empathetic and sympathetic. In spite of it all, I am growing and learning and playing the hand I have been dealt. July is for IVF. It’s a chapter, a lesson, a small piece of what will ultimately be my narrative. It’s a scary, sad, hard piece. It’s a piece a cow wouldn’t have to deal with. But I am only like a cow, not an actual cow.
Moo, anyway… and hand me that syringe, I’ve got some injections to do.
And one in EIGHT couples? Wowza. Friends, I hope that for many of you I’m swaying the odds in your favor. Goodness knows I know many more than 8 other couples though. Dang.
Recently, I passed what I’ve long considered “the point of no return” — I started taking birth control.
Seems counter-intuitive , doesn’t it? But apparently, birth control is a necessary step in the IVF process. No more wishing, hoping, praying, imagining that this month will be the month that a spontaneous pregnancy catches us by surprise. We’re committed. Past the point of no return, if you will, on the way to IVF.
Early, early last Monday morning we headed down to Madison for the uterine mapping process. I’ll spare you the details, but it was not exactly a fun time. One step closer. Now that I’m on the pill though, I’m happy to just check, check, check these things off my list and get to the real business at hand. Egg collection, fertilization, implantation, and then, God-willing, a legit pregnancy. Cross my fingers, hold my breath, say my prayers, beg all the powers that be…
Honestly though, stumbling across this infertility awareness business, recognizing that I’m just another 1 in 8, makes me feel a whole lot less bad for myself. It’s a lot easier to be over-dramatic and woe-is-me-ish when I’m preoccupied with the utter uniqueness of my situation, which is really not all that unique at all. Tough, yes, but not unique. Barren, but not a barren-ess… nor the barren-est.
Misery really does love company, I suppose. But misery loves joy too. And support and friendship and happy news. Misery can even not be so miserable all the time because the notion of whether or not I’m going to have a family this way or that one is really only one small part of the life that I am living… which also happens to include blogging and smiles and products for curly hair and a floppy-pawed pup and buzz-cutted man, etc, etc, etc (please don’t tell Grammarist i just listed et ceteras, it’s so super wrong). Yes, sometimes procedures and tests and waits, anxiety and pain and grief, but even lives not marked by infertility include all those very same things. I’m just one of the eight in which infertility happens to be a major source.
Ain’t no thing. Except sometimes when it’s a thing. And in this week, I guess we should maybe chat about that thing on account of it being a week dedicated to the awareness of infertility.
So: some people are infertile. Some people like me.
Some people also have cancer or webbed toes or choose to adopt despite not being infertile at all. You never know. Different strokes. I guess the best way to go about it all is to remember what my fortune cookie said that one time: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting their battle too.
Regardless of the appropriate etiquette and practiced responses we’re supposed to be referring to (those links are specific to infertility, of course, not webbed toes)– I think with a little kindness about it all, remembering that there is a battle going on, one we might know nothing about, we can’t really go wrong.
Even my own attitude seems to swing somewhat wildly… some days, like today, I feel relatively non-nonchalant, infertility is just another thing. Other days, infertility feels like The Only Thing. With respect to etiquette and responses and such, I certainly can’t expect you, my husband, my dog, my mom, or anybody else to try to gauge that. It’s simply not fair. I can hope for kindness, though, and so can you. And while you obviously don’t need one more thing to be aware of (infertility! autism! breast cancer! colony collapse, drought, pandas, and webbed toes! so many Things!) it can’t hurt to remember that the radar of others’ isn’t necessarily tuned to the same channel as our own and, as such, discrepancies regarding awareness do exist. Because our radar spheres have overlapped in this moment (and I know that all of these metaphors are super non-coherent, scientifically speaking, so yeah) here I am, bringing infertility onto your screen.
Blip! You’re welcome.
Not really though. More like I’m welcome. Because it’s my self-serving blog, not yours.
Anyway, I’m really going to go write that book review of I, Lucifer now. I keep thinking about it, obviously my mind wants to talk talk talk about it. See you then!