15; The Final Countdown

In true me fashion, the first thing I did today after learning my progesterone levels were adequate and ready for my body to receive an embryo was Google “What is an ideal progesterone level for a FET (frozen embryo transfer)?”

The first thing I found was a study that said anything over 20 ng/ml showed decreased live-birth rates and increased pregnancy-loss rates. I have a level of 38.1! Hooray! So of course, I break down in tears and call my doctor. Nurse calls me back and assures me they supplement their patients with MORE progesterone if their levels are under 20, so I’m choosing to take that plus my lining looking solid at my appointment this morning as a good sign.

The transfer is tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. and honestly, up until now, I haven’t thought about it even a fraction as much as I have my six previous treatments. Yes, folks, this is lucky number seven. My nerves have been low. I have been very que sera and laissez-faire about it (for me, at least) literally until 4 p.m. today, when I Googled as I had never Googled before and tried unsuccessfully to muffle my sobs as I spoke to the IVF nurse over the phone.

I talked to Josh over Google Hangouts during this spiral while he was still at work and he told me I needed to be brave. I argued that making a decision based on convenience isn’t brave, it’s ignorant. He said the bravery comes from letting go, or something, and I said that’s naivete. He sighed loudly (probably) and told me the only thing that has made sense in the past hour and a half: “Let’s not argue.”

At this point, there is really nothing else I can control aside from how I handle these next 18 hours and how much trust I put in my doctors and my nurses, and it’s hard to do that. After six failed treatments, it’s really hard to trust anyone, even myself, even though it’s not any of our faults.

I was talking to my therapist a couple of weeks ago about this whole process and I realized that 99% of our sessions over the past couple of years have been about me trying to have a baby. It made me think about how I want to raise a child — i.e., to know that they are an important part of the world and special and loved, but that they need to work hard and that they are not the center of the universe — and I realized how I’ve been living my life so opposite of that. My entire existence the past two and a half years, for the most part, has been about becoming a parent, and I want to be so much more than that even if I do finally get to become a mom.

I want our kids(s) to look at us and see whole people who model something to be proud of. I want them to feel like an integral part of a bigger purpose, not the entire purpose. I know parents so often say their children are their entire lives, and as much as I want any child of mine to know they are the most important part of my life, I don’t want them to think they are the only important part, and I have been doing a bad job of living that way myself. I want a child to come into an environment Josh and I have created because it was borne out of who we are as individuals and a couple, not out of a fake version we want to present as a child.

It really has made me, deep down, realize that if we don’t have kids, I’m going to be OK. We absolutely would want to adopt, I think we would just need some time to grieve this part of the process. And for a while I felt so guilty about that, but I don’t anymore. I think of anyone (especially people who have had biological children and therefore have no business commenting) having the nerve to tell us the right/least selfish way to do this and I laugh, because you don’t truly realize the gravity of something you can lose until you’re on the edge of losing it yourself.

For now, I’m just going to keep my thoughts positive, resist the urge to have “one last drink” for the 329248th time this week (don’t judge me), actually do my IVF meditation tonight, and try very hard (again, for the 329248th time this week) to find a mental balance between what is and what could be.

14; It Me, the Good Luck Chuck of Fertility

As someone who is dealing with infertility in a day and age where information is at your fingertips, I have to say I’m really lucky. I’ve met so many other women over the internet who have struggled with the same things I have — some of them with journeys so similar it’s scary — and it has brought me a lot of hope and a sense of belonging I haven’t really felt comfortable being vulnerable enough to seek out in real life outside of a couple women I knew were struggling before my own infertility journey started.

One of the biggest places I have found support and a community of women who truly understand is the Glow app, which has been a lifeline for me at times when I know I can’t go to my friends or family members and hear “It will happen, just relax” or “What is meant to be will be” or, the worst, “Do you just want my kid?” (the least funny thing ever) one more goddamned time.

And to their credit, they all mean well. There is just nothing you can really say, and I understand that is a struggle. I am the queen of making insensitive jokes in an effort to lighten the mood even with people I’m closest to and when I know it’s not the time, but that shit slips out anyway and, in fact, did just the other night after we found out Josh’s granddad died. I don’t remember what I said to Josh but it was slightly too far and goes to show even I, the martyr who is throwing my loved ones under the bus right now, am not immune to the occasional (OK, probably more than occasional) foot-in-mouth episode.

Glow has been a safe haven for me because it has shown me the sheer number of other women who not only struggle with what I’m struggling with, but have it way worse — which is something that really puts my journey in perspective and makes me thankful for what I do have. There are women who have been trying to have a child for a decade, women who can’t afford fertility treatments or adoption. Women who have had miscarriage after miscarriage or who have lost their babies right after birth, and I just cannot imagine.

But I have also met quite a few women who have been on the edge of a treatment cycle, just like me. And every single time, these women go on to have babies — during the cycle I meet them. All of them except me. Every time, we message each other constantly throughout our cycles and it goes something like this:

Me: “Hey, how are you? What are your numbers looking like?”

Future Pregnant Chick: “Great! My numbers are XYZ, but I’m not expecting much!”

Me: “Oh same and me either lol I am hoping for the best though!”

Back and forth, updating each other on appointments and hormone shots and comparing levels and random other shit until one day in the near future…

Previously Future Now Currently Pregnant Chick: “OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE IT, I SEE A FAINT LINE — RIGHT, I’M NOT CRAZY!?”

Sad me pretending to be excited and simultaneously feeling guilty for having to pretend at all: “GIRL YES HOLY SHIT I’M SO HAPPY FOR YOU CONGRATS!”

This has happened to me at least five times now, to the point where I’ve started secretly dubbing myself the Good Luck Chuck of Fertility. I don’t know if you’ve seen that movie with Dane Cook, but if you haven’t, don’t. I haven’t even seen it because why would I, but I know the premise and it’s basically like…girls have sex with him (? Ew) and then find their true love, who is not him. So that’s me. I somehow have sex with these women’s hope and then they have a baby, and I’m left still babyless.

And that all sounds so shitty, I know. Originally, I was in it for the support, and I’m very thankful I have found that. In fact, I have made one really true friend whose baby girl is six months old today, who was due around the same time as me when I got pregnant last year, and she is always checking in on me and is the most wonderful person. But for the most part, the people disappear.

And that’s one side you don’t hear about much, even if you’re aboard the infertility train: That even the women who are struggling, most of them will eventually move on with their lives too. Which is 100% how it should be, but it just wasn’t a side effect I was expecting, I guess. The extra large hole that is left when the women who “get it” eventually migrate to join the group of people who are moms is…almost a worse feeling than before.

But deep down, I know this vulnerability is going to help me be a better mother or, at the very least, a better person. It has to, right? And to be honest, I know I will eventually able to be happy with just the latter.

4; “Ask for What You Want, Not What You Don’t Want.”

If I could sum up the last two years I’ve spent seeing my (amazing) therapist, it would be with this sentence. At least every other session, she reminds me of this little mantra. We’ve discussed it in length. In theory, it seems pretty simple: Send what you want out into the universe as opposed to waiting for the other shoe to drop, and ye shall receive. Very The Secret-esque, which is a book I’ve read and really loved. If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest it. It’s all about the power of positive thinking helping manifest your thoughts into realities.

But repeating that mantra and actually having it be a calming force that centers you back to reality isn’t so straightforward when you’re a person plagued by constant guilt you can’t put into logic. While I understand (and have experienced firsthand) the fact that it’s important to take care of yourself so you can be the best version of yourself for others, it is so hard to put into practice. For every dollar I spend on something for myself or hour I spend playing a video game, reading a book, watching a movie, etc., I feel like I can be spending it on helping others or at the very least learning something new that I can apply to something constructive, as opposed to texting my friend after binge-watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians and being like, “Oh God, I finally got to the episode where Kris tells Kim not to take selfies in the car because they’re on their way to see Khloé in jail.” (Next checkpoint: the Todd Kraines prank call episode. I still don’t even know who Todd Kraines is.)

Guilt is my constant emotion that I can always count on, and it’s rough. The last time I can remember truly taking care of myself was when Ricky and I broke up in 2010 and Josh wasn’t ready to commit and I was floating along trying to distract myself from the thing I wanted. I felt like, because I was so hurt inside, that I was allowed to put myself first because no one else was going to. I lost some weight, started running, ran a freaking half marathon and felt like a million bucks. Now, I am experiencing pain that is much different but still as intense with all this infertility shit, so why can’t I do the same thing? Is it because Josh is here to support me? If I felt more alone, would that make me more apt to care for myself again or would I spiral down into a black hole this time? I don’t want to find out but sometimes I wonder what has to give for me to feel like it’s OK to breathe.

Speaking of. A couple sessions ago, once Josh and I had made the decision to charge deliberately forward with IVF, my therapist said, “You’re breathing more, I’m noticing.” I was like huh? She meant literally what she said, that I wasn’t holding my breath for such prolonged periods of time and that I was speaking more slowly and deliberately, and taking breaths like a normal human. It’s something I notice at the most random times, like in the shower. I’ll realize I haven’t had a good inhale or exhale in too long and scramble to fill my lungs again. The breathing exercises are the one thing I love about yoga. I just wish my wrists weren’t so weak.

I mean, I wish my wrists were stronger. “Ask for what you want.” I’m trying.