Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Empty Womb, Aching Heart!


I have mentioned in a previous post about the stick figures on the back of people’s car windows and how I look at them longingly, as cheesy as they are.  This past weekend G and I were driving on the interstate and came up on a vehicle that had five little figures.  We just looked at each other and let it pass without speaking a word.  As we continued the drive home I could feel the emotions welling up inside me.  My heart was breaking and my mind was swimming with jealousy.  Why do they get five when I have been begging for years for one?

It has been two months since our last unsuccessful cycle.   Once we made our decision to move on to adoption I have felt completely at peace with our choice.  I have had three positive pregnancy tests while on this journey and not once did I ever feel like one of those babies would come home with me.  The adoption process has finally made me believe that one day I truly will be a mother.  So why did the stick figure family cause those old feelings to come back up?  Why was I experiencing feelings of joy and excitement, while at the same time feelings of jealousy and sadness?  It was as if I was 95% complete, but there was this one small place in my heart that was still empty. 

I have had feelings of emptiness many times while on our infertility journey but these feelings were different.  I was feeling so conflicted, both happy and sad at the same time.  I was feeling the joy and excitement of planning for the adopted child that is surely coming our way as well as the sadness of my empty womb.   The sadness I was feeling was not the usual sadness I felt because of my infertility.  No, it was because of the last miscarriage.  I suddenly realized that the due date for my last miscarriage is in a few weeks.  All the pain that G and I went through after that loss was back.  My womb is empty and my heart is aching.  It’s hard to believe that it has been seven months since our last loss.  If you would have asked me last July if I ever thought I would survive that miscarriage I would have said without a doubt, “NO!”

G and I did survive and have once again made it through one of the hardest times in our lives.  Am I happy that we have suffered so much pain and loss? Of course not, but I am thankful for what these struggles have done for me.  They have made me stronger, more compassionate, and more loving.  Most of all, they helped me to know that I can love any child unconditionally.  I had to go through all those procedures, all those injections, all those failed cycles and all those losses to be able to move on.  We had to know that we did everything we could for a biological family before we could move forward with adoption.   Dr. L gave me the peace that I needed to make that decision.

So as I sit here tonight thinking about those little angels I lost, I am thankful they opened my heart to the child that will soon be joining our family! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What Does it Mean to Be Brave?

Over the last several years on numerous occasions I have been told that I was brave. I was talking with a friend this week and she again used the word brave to describe me. She said that I continued to show courage and bravery while on my journey through cancer, infertility, miscarriage and now adoption. It got me thinking about what it means to be brave. The dictionary defines brave as possessing or displaying courage. Based on that definition I don’t think I would classify myself as brave. I have never jumped in front of a car to save a child crossing the street. I have never taken a bullet defending our country. I have never run into a burning building to save a family stranded inside. And I have never fought off brain eating zombies. No, I am not brave.

I don’t see my struggles as bravery. They are just part of my life and something that we have to deal with. I can’t say that we really had a choice on which path we could take to have our child and we were definitely not thrown down the easy one. Nope, in fact, we have been lost in the woods trying to find a path to the highway fending off wolves while foraging to find a way to survive this infertile hell. Yes, I have had more injections than a drug addict. Yes, I have had more uterine scans than any woman should in her lifetime. Yes, I have enough blood sucked out of my body to feed an entire pack of vampires. Yes, I have lost more pregnancies than I care to think about. Does that make me brave? I don’t think so.

So why do I continue down these paths knowing that there will be pain and heartache? Why do I allow myself to feel things that no one should? I trudge on because it is the only way for my dreams to become reality. It is out of our own personal necessity to have a child that we as infertiles continue down the rocky path.  It is what we hope is at the end of our journey that keeps us going.  I do believe that it takes hope, faith and great strength to stand in the storm.  We just have to remember that if there were no rain then there would be no rainbows. I know that the end of my rainbow is going to be amazing!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Learning to Wait!

So much of my journey to having a family has been filled with waiting. For years I endured fertility treatments and the waiting that comes with them. I waited for biopsies.  I waited until a certain day in my cycle to start the next round of treatments.  I waited for follicles to grow.  I waited for trigger shots to work. I waited for egg retrievals and fertilization reports.  I waited to see if my embryos survived the thaw.  I waited anxiously for two weeks every month to see if I was pregnant.  I waited for blood test results.  I waited to hear the news that I was pregnant. I waited for my hormones to normalize after my miscarriages so I could try again. I stopped fertility treatments and yet here I am again...waiting.

I am so excited about our adoption and yet I am struggling with letting go of the past.  Now that we are adopting, my infertility and all those feelings did not miraculously disappear.  Infertility is still a part of who I am.  It's so strange to have so many mixed feelings.  I don't miss the stress, the anxiety, the fears or the sadness that come with fertility treatments.  In fact, that has been the best part of our changing directions.  However, I am finding that the waiting is still ever present.  Now we are waiting to complete the home study.  Once that is done we will begin the wait for our application to be processed and on the approval by the adoption agency.  Then comes the worst wait of all; being picked by the birth parents.

Patience is not a skill that I have been able to master.  I am definitely a "get it done now" type of girl; if it can be fixed, fix it.  I can tell you without a doubt that my infertility has taught me that I have no control over time or the outcome when it comes to my having a family.  If you would have asked me 18 years ago what my life would look like today, this would have never been on my radar.  I never thought I would be waiting so long to have my first child.  I never thought I would have to wait for someone else to choose me to be the mother of my child. 

What's the saying, "The best things in life are worth waiting for"?  I know that my child is definitely worth the wait, but if he/she could hurry up into our lives, mommy would appreciate it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

All I Need to Know I Learned From Infertility

I think it is safe to say that I have learned a lot of life lessons while trying to have a baby.  Many of them I learned while going through fertility treatments.  I thought I would share my top 10 favorites.  Enjoy!

1. Don’t ever watch “I didn’t know I was pregnant” or “Teen Mom”…that shit will just piss you off!

2. Don’t ever change your hair color, try on swim suits or shop for any appliance that can be used as a weapon while taking hormone injections…TRUST ME!

3. It’s OK to have sex just for the fun of it and not because your doctor told you to.

4. You never have to apologize for your urges to punch someone that has just offered you some “helpful” advice. As long as you don’t act on it you’re good!

5. It’s not a bad idea to buy stock in the makers of Gonal-F and Follistim because there are more infertiles out there than you know.

6. You can never watch too much “Big Bang Theory” when you are in an infertile funk. I have yet to be blindsided by the surprise pregnancy while watching this show!

7. Don’t ever trust the internet when it comes to telling you if you are pregnant or not. Believe me it lies!

8. It is always OK to have some mysterious & vague illness right before you are supposed to attend yet another baby shower!  I cannot tell you how many times I felt deathly ill only to recover in time to meet friends for dinner that night.  Weird, huh?

9. There is nothing wrong with hiding all friends on Facebook that are pregnant, have kids, or just annoy the crap out of you. It may end up that your news feed only includes your husband…unless he is one of the ones that just annoys the crap out of you!

10. Don’t believe the rumors out there that say having sex leads to pregnancy! That is the biggest myth of all!  Had I known that earlier I could have saved A LOT of money on birth control over the years!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Behind Closed Doors

Over the last few weeks G and I have worked on getting some long overdue tasks done around the house in preparation for our home study.  I guess you could say that I am really getting into the "nesting" mode.   The cleaning or "nesting" got me thinking about the baby that will soon be part of our lives and those maternal instincts that have started to kick in.  It's funny because, even though I am not pregnant I still have so many of those feelings that come with hearing the news that you are going to be a parent.  No matter how the baby comes into your lives those emotions are at the forefront of your mind.

Since my first pregnancy (really since the day we told my mom we were trying to get pregnant) I have had a hope chest with things for the baby.  As the years passed without a little one joining our family, the chest has really turned into 3 storage bins and several large items lying around the unused nursery.  Friends and loved ones have been so amazing with giving us trinkets and hand-me-downs.  So this past Friday I decided it was time to tackle the room that I have been avoiding for so long.

It has been a year and a half since the tree fell on our house from hurricane Irene.  The tree demolished the room that was going to be the nursery and it had to be completely redone.  We decided to take advantage of having a professional painter and stepped out on faith to have the room painted like an actual nursery.  As hard as it was we carefully chose a beautiful tranquil color for the room that our baby was sure to occupy very soon.  After we moved back into the house it became very difficult for me to look at that empty space every day.  It was beautiful, but it was a constant reminder that I was still not pregnant.  For over a year now that room has been closed off to avoid the emotional breakdowns that came with me seeing it.  Out of sight out of mind so to speak.

As I opened the door and took in the room the biggest smile began to creep on to my face.  I looked around and could just imagine the completed room.  Since my first positive pregnancy test years ago I had this idea of what I wanted the nursery to look like.  I could see the rolling hills on the walls with the clouds on the ceiling.  For the first time in a very long time I felt as if this was real. My baby was going to be lying in its crib in that very room sometime in the near future.  It was an amazing feeling.  I was able to sort through the items and decide what was going and what was staying.  It felt so cathartic.  That is until I got to the breast pump...commence breakdown!

It hit me like a ton of bricks.  There are so many things that I am really OK with not experiencing through having a biological child.  Having been pregnant a few times and struggling with nausea in general I am just fine with not having morning sickness.  I am OK with not having stretch marks, hemorrhoids, back and leg pain, extreme fatigue and honestly never having to worry if I am going to have a miscarriage again.  I am not going to lie, I can't say that I am going to miss the pain of giving birth.  G and I have talked many times about the pros of my not carrying our child and I truly am OK with it.  So what caused me to tailspin into the tears and sadness?

Seeing the breast pump I began to think about all the things that I wanted to experience with my own pregnancy.  I will never be able to breast feed my baby and have that bonding that comes with nursing.  I will never feel my baby moving in my body which is something I imagined with every pregnancy. G will never get to feel the baby kick while rubbing my stomach.  I will never have an ultrasound photo of our child.  I won't be able to see the baby grow while inside me.

I sat there for a while letting the tears stream down my face as I sort of mourned the thoughts of carrying my biological child and then it dawned on me.  Yes, I will miss a few things from not giving birth myself, but G and I will have a lifetime of firsts that only we will get to experience.  The first time I get to rock my baby while feeding him/her will make all those feelings of missing out melt away.