The Roller Coaster of Infertility

reflections on the ups and downs of infertility, and why I need to balance optimism and realism

roller_coasterWhen I was younger I loved roller coasters. Loved them. The thrills, the speed, the surprises. Then one summer in college I suddenly became afflicted with motion sickness. Even half hour car rides can make me feel ill, so I keep dramamine handy to avoid feeling sick in the car if I’m not driving. However, I have learned the hard way that dramamine doesn’t quite do the trick for roller coasters. I can only manage to participate in the simplest rides at places like Disneyland. Peter Pan, Snow White, Winnie the Pooh — those are the kinds of rides for me, and that’s still with dramamine. It’s disappointing to sit and watch Matt go on the rides that my former self would have loved, but it’s not worth the sickness. So I hold on to my happy memories of getting off rides like Space Mountain, feeling the rush and excitement…

Unfortunately, the roller coaster I HAVE been riding for the past two years has been the worst ride of my life. And unlike the real life, fun, roller coasters, there are no cheerful workers who ask us kindly to buckle up and keep our hands and arms inside the car at all times. There are no warnings about the whiplash that’s possible on this ride. There is no screening process or recommendations in the beginning making sure we’re capable of tolerating the ride. Nope. This is the roller coaster of infertility. Pure chance signed us up for this twisted ride of ups and downs, and emotional whiplash, and we’ve been struggling to stay seated in our coaster car as we’ve been jerked around month after month.

The ups are when things seem to be going right. When I have a good follicle count. When Matt’s sperm counts are good. When we try a new medication. When we go in for an IUI. When the results of a diagnostic test or procedure come back normal. Anytime I have built up hope that *this is going to be the month*. Last month, for example, Matt and I were *so sure* I was going to be pregnant. We were so optimistic and full of hope.  

The downs are when things don’t go right. When I found out I wasn’t ovulating. When I was diagnosed with endometriosis. When there was only one follicle ready. When Matt’s sperm counts are not good. When I test negative for pregnancy and my period starts. When I am pregnant and it ends up being ectopic.

The twists and turns are when something unexpected happens. These unexpected events have done everything from throw us off balance to nearly throwing us completely out of the coaster car. Sometimes the fact that we’ve managed to continue hanging on surprises me. Things like learning that sperm counts can change daily threw us for a loop. Matt’s first low count surprised us — we were not expecting that news because his analysis had originally been great. When I was pregnant we had an abrupt turn when we learned that my progesterone levels were low. Enter: progesterone injections. This was a twist we did not expect at all, but we re-adjusted and got used to doing the daily injections at home. The worst turn of all was the oh, so very sharp turn, down and to the right, corkscrewing round and round and out of control when the evidence of an ectopic pregnancy in my right fallopian tube became clear. They had been monitoring me for several days before the diagnosis, but even the knowledge that something might be off didn’t help to brace us for the impact. We reached the bottom of that corkscrew completely dazed and in the dark.

In any given month of trying to conceive and any given treatment cycle there are so many opportunities for ups and downs, twists and turns. Before we were using assisted reproductive technologies (ART), we’d build up hope, I’d do everything I could to prepare my body for pregnancy, we’d play “the baby name game” as I call it… then my period would arrive and I’d be disappointed and sad. The more we have progressed into ART, the more monitoring and data there is — meaning that there are even more opportunities for directional changes. We know the number of follicles, the thickness of my endometrium, and the number of sperm. People who have been through IVF know their follicle count, how many eggs were retrieved, the number of fertilized eggs, and the number of healthy embryos. There are so many ways for things to go well or poorly, ways to be delighted or disappointed.

Please note that I am not suggesting that knowing the data is a bad thing — I want to know everything that’s happening. It may not be right for someone else, but it’s right for me. Matt and I have so little control in this whole process and knowing as much as possible is something we like. It helps me to feel more in control… it’s not much, I’ll admit that, but knowledge is power and knowing what’s happening helps me. So we ask for numbers and details. And if they are good, then we are happy! But if they are bad, then we’re undoubtedly disappointed.

Even though there are opportunities for ups, during infertility the downs are more common. And they seem to last longer for me. They stick with me and they’re so painful. They make me afraid to let the car ride up to the top again. Reaching the optimistic point at the top where I’m full of hope and expectation means that the fall is greater when it doesn’t work out. And this kind of fall is not the fun kind where I’m screaming with excitement. It’s the kind where I want to scream out with fear and pain and despair because all I can see is darkness and the coaster car is plummeting as fast as it can, but I can’t even manage to scream. And then I’m down at the bottom feeling hopeless, confused, and foolish for getting my hopes up so high again. The emotional whiplash of these transitions and falls seem unbearable at times.

source: www.someecards.com
source: www.someecards.com

Here is where I wish I could share some kind of wonderful miracle cure for the emotional whiplash of infertility. Unfortunately I haven’t found one yet. The only thing I can say is that I have learned that the best way for us to handle this is to try to balance our optimism with our realism — to be cautiously optimistic. This is not always easy… and not everyone understands why it’s important to me to be cautious. But I need to stay balanced. Full on optimism (like last month) will likely lead to a great big fall — so far for us, it has every single time. I certainly hope this is not the case for us forever, but I have to be realistic with myself. There are no guarantees with treatments. And as we’ve learned, there is no guarantee of a live birth even if I get pregnant.

Just like I can no longer tolerate real life roller coasters, I do not tolerate being thrown around by infertility very well either. Proceeding with half hope feels right. It feels safe. We need enough hope to keep trying at this point, but I stay cautious in an attempt to guard my heart. The ups and downs, twists and turns are still going to happen. There’s nothing we can do about that, but we can attempt to moderate our expectations. For now we hold on to the hope we have and our cautious optimism, and buckle our seat belts tight.

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Recommended Reading

If it’s not obvious by now, I like to write. When I was little I would make books at home… I’d cut the paper, staple the book together, and fill in the pages with words and pictures, and an adult would have to translate my sloppy words and letters into coherent sentences. Later, in my elementary school we had the opportunity to have our little creations printed and bound. The covers of the books were cardstock wrapped in scraps of wallpaper or contact paper… I wonder now which unfortunate teacher, school staff member, or PTA member had to patiently cut and wrap those covers. Yikes. Thank you to that person for helping my eight-year-old-self bring a “published” book home to share with Mom and Dad. Which reminds me — I believe there are several stacks of those books at my parents’ house… Sorry, Mom and Dad. I did move most of my stuff out here, but I do think my collected works are still living at your place.

However, with all of that said, I consider myself a reader first and foremost, not a writer. I read novels mostly, but during my infertility journey I have read numerous books, blogs, and other articles about infertility, and more recently pregnancy loss. Today I want to share three of the resources that have spoken to me during my journey. When thinking about what to write on my own blog, it occurred to me that sometimes someone else’s writing was just right for me, and just what I needed… I figure that the best way I can acknowledge their work and pay it forward is to just share the links (and maybe a few thoughts I had about it too. I do like to write after all). So without further ado, here are three links for today’s recommended reading:

5 Surprisingly Outdated Problems Infertile Couples Face
This is one of the best posts I have read about infertility. It’s spot on, and as a bonus, I think it’s hilarious. Even the picture captions make me laugh. This is one of the few posts that I have read and re-read. And re-read again. So I won’t even try to sum it up. Please read it.

My Facebook Timeline Lies
This is a great post about how there’s much more going on behind the scenes than what we share with the world. This writer opens up about her facebook posts and what was really happening in her life when the pictures were taken. For a long time I have felt like my facebook timeline was similar. To the world it looked like I was travelling, going to concerts, working on our house, and basically living a carefree life, but behind the scenes things were not as great as they seemed… facebook doesn’t tell the whole story. We never know what someone else might be going through.

Therapists’ Top Tips for Coping with Fertility Problems
This is one of those “well intentioned lists written by professionals” that I mentioned in my about me page. It’s not a post that I felt an emotional connection to, but I do think it gives a nice, general overview of coping tips and issues facing people with infertility.

Note: I have created a Resources page to list in one place all of the resources that I share in my blog posts. Check that page out to see the full list to date. You can also click on “Select Category” under the Topics heading and select “Resources” to see all of the posts I have made that include resources.

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Date Nights

date_nightsEarly this year during a hard time, I decided we were going to plan date nights to keep us busy and have activities to look forward to. At first Matt thought they were a bit silly, but he’s a good sport so he went along with it. Now they are something we take pride in — we sit down together, plan our dates, and then follow through. And, like I originally intended, they give us something to do and something to look forward to… but they also have made us try new activities, go new places, and try new recipes. Our dates also give us something to talk about, to each other and to our friends and family. During infertility the question “what’s new?” is very painful. I feel like NOTHING is new because for us it’s the same old disappointing story every month… and I’m definitely not saying that the date nights take that away (they don’t!), but sometimes they do give us something else to think about. They give us a break. Our dates nights have been a nice way for us to shift the focus back to us. They have been a small way that we can kind of reclaim our relationship during a time when it feels like everything is out of our control.

During our dates we don’t play that game where we don’t talk about kids or pregnancy or our treatment or anything like that. I see things online about making time where you don’t talk about it — I wish that would work for us, but it doesn’t. So we don’t force it. Sometimes during a date we talk a lot about it, and sometimes we don’t. We just go with it. It’s time for us and we go with whatever feels right with the activity we’ve chosen for that date.

So. You must be thinking, “gee how much money are you spending on all of these dates?” Answer: not much. We are saving all spare pennies these days for our infertility treatments, so we’ve put ourselves on a budget and while we’re not perfect, we try to stick to it… Therefore, many of our dates are not very extravagant. If we do go out, we try to stick to one of drinks, dinner, dessert, or activity to cut down on cost. In addition to the dates listed below, we also have “Fancy Friday”. Every Friday we dress up for dinner, whether we’re going out or staying in. I usually wear a dress and Matt usually wears a shirt and bow-tie. If we’re staying in we usually eat off of our fine China… even if we’re just having leftovers or frozen pizza. It’s fun.

Here’s a list of some of the things we’ve done:

  • Arcade — this date was so much more fun than we expected! Lots of cheap thrills — we limited ourselves to only spending $10 each. We played fun games, then combined our “tickets” (the arcade we went to had virtual tickets that were stored on the card filled with virtual tokens…) and traded them in for ridiculous prizes!
  • Art fair (or similar open air market)
  • Art gallery walk
  • Bowling
  • Breakfast for dinner & crossword puzzle — we tried a new recipe for this date and it’s become a favorite: cinnamon applesauce pancakes
  • Bubble bath & champagne — one of our favorites. I highly recommend the bath bombs from Lush. They’re amazing and so bubbly. The first bubble bath date inspired our monthly toasts to our survival.
  • Chocolate — we have a chocolate cafe in town. It’s the best.
  • Farmer’s Market
  • Game night at home
  • Go ice skating
  • Go out for brunch
  • Go out for coffee/tea
  • Go out for dessert
  • Go out for drinks — we went to a speakeasy style bar here in town!
  • Have a picnic — this was one of my favorites. Pack up a simple lunch and take a walk to your backyard or local park, spread out your blanket and enjoy your lunch. Simple, but very relaxing. Our favorite picnic menu: french baguette, sliced ham, some kind of French cheese, and sparkling juice — it reminds us of a picnic we had in France.
  • Have fondue — we went to The Melting Pot for our first fondue date. On our second fondue date we made chocolate fondue at home. It was pretty easy! Here’s the recipe we used.
  • Have pizza and do a puzzle — this puzzle turned into many nights of side by side puzzle working!
  • Jazz club — we discovered a local jazz club! We’ve been back since because we enjoyed it so much.
  • Live music
  • Live theater — we’ve treated ourselves to season tickets to a local theater group and to occasional traveling Broadway shows
  • Make a fort — we did this in our living room and then watched online videos on our laptop inside the tent. It was fun and worked well until kitties tried jumping on top of the sheet covering the fort…
  • Milkshakes at Sonic
  • Mini golf
  • Movie night — we’ve done lots of movie nights. Sometimes we stay home, sometimes we go out. We’ve been to the new “fancy theater” in town (one with recliners!) all the way to the second run or “cheap theater”, as we call it. We’re currently waiting for something we’re interested in to hit the drive-in so we can go there too.
  • Stay at a B&B — ok, on the extravagant side, but sometimes it’s nice to splurge a bit!
  • Tandem biking — this was a super fun activity that we tried on vacation this summer. I suggest it only if you and your partner are good at working together in coordination – the gears/pedals on the bike go together; there’s no pedaling independently!
  • Watch the sunrise

Some date nights on our idea list for the future:

  • Swing dancing (we used to do this in college all the time!)
  • Rollerskating
  • Geocaching
  • Comedy club
  • Local museum

A note about some of our dates: not all of the activities listed above are recommended while one is trying to conceive. I’m not a doctor, so don’t take this as medical advice, but I do know that things like baths, biking, and drinking are not great for sperm and/or baby making. I recommend these activities on months “off”. For example, we had to take time off trying after I was treated with methotrexate because it can cause birth defects… it was the perfect time to take a hot bath and go on a bike ride.

At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what we’re doing on a date night as long as it’s something at least tolerable to both of us that gets us out of our typical pattern. Our dates break up the monotony of disappointment and treatment. They give us bright spots of joy during this dark time, and to be honest, I’ll take the good times where I can get them. Life is short and we’ve already spent over two years traveling this crazy road of infertility. It’s good to take little breaks to have fun and remember why we’re even on this journey — we love each other and enjoy spending time together. I believe that regardless of where our road is headed, our date nights will continue to bring us closer together in love.

 

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Sitting With Grief

sitting_with_griefSometimes I have really bad days. Days where I need to cry and feel very sad. Days where I need to sit on the couch and snuggle my kitties. Days where I intentionally wear a sweatshirt because I’ve found them to be the best for bad days — they are handy for wiping away tears and they are also extremely comfortable. On my rollercoaster of infertility, bad days typically strike after my period arrives, but I’ve found that bad days can really occur at any time. There are a variety of things that might trigger me to have a bad day, and let’s face it, the things I’m putting my body through certainly aren’t helping to moderate my emotions… the medications do quite the opposite. I won’t even get into how much I cried while watching the Olympics this summer. It was madness. Anyway, back to the bad days. After my ectopic pregnancy I was having lots of bad days. At the time I told my therapist that I was spending a lot of time sitting around feeling really sorry for myself. My therapist listened and then kindly corrected me — I wasn’t “sitting around feeling sorry for myself”; I was “sitting with my grief.”

Wow.

Her correction made me realize that I was feeling negative about my grief. I had been thinking of my grief in terms of feeling sorry for myself for a long time. And telling myself I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself made me feel guilty. Like I shouldn’t be doing that. Like I was selfish. Like I was weak for having bad days, for crying, or ungrateful for the things in my life that are great. But this grief is more than a self-indulgent pity party of feeling sorry for myself because things just aren’t going my way. Infertility and pregnancy losses are real — they may not always be tangible, but that doesn’t make them any less real. This grief is overwhelming and powerful, and experiencing and working through my grief isn’t something I should feel guilty for doing; it’s not something that makes me weak or selfish. Experiencing grief doesn’t mean I’m ungrateful. Her word change was simple, but it made a difference for me.

Don’t get me wrong — from my past experiences with grief and loss, I know how important it is for me to take the time to grieve. To be sad. To remember who and what has been lost. To honor them. But infertility is different. When I’m sad about my inability (thus far…) to bring a child into this world, I’m not able to remember a person. There isn’t a funeral. There are no memories or mementos for me to hold on to. Instead, the loss is one of a future. It’s a loss of hopes and dreams. In the case of my ectopic pregnancy it was the loss of a much wanted and loved baby who I’ll never hold in my arms or rock to sleep or watch graduate from high school… it’s the loss of a whole lifetime. And in our society there is no tradition for recognizing these losses… no comforting ceremonies to hold for saying goodbye and gaining some closure. Some societies do have traditions; for example, in Japan there are temples to visit to say goodbye to and honor their babies. But we don’t have anything. Matt and I had to come up with our own ways to recognize and honor our lost pregnancy and our infertility journey in general. I’m pleased with what we have done, but it would have been nice if there had been some kind of widespread tradition in our society to guide us.

Additionally, society doesn’t understand infertility or pregnancy loss very well, so the support can be minimal at times. These are taboo subjects and they tend to make people very uncomfortable if they are brought up. They are also experiences that not everyone has endured themselves, unlike other kinds of losses that are very common. In our case, not many of our loved ones know what infertility or pregnancy loss is like. This lack of understanding and personal experience makes it hard for people to relate to me. Due to this gap, sometimes I find the words spoken out of love to be far less comforting than they were intended by my loved one, and I end up feeling misunderstood and alone. In an attempt to bridge this gap, here are two links with tips on supporting someone who is experiencing infertility and/or pregnancy loss or stillbirth that may be helpful for anyone who is supporting someone experiencing this type of heartbreak.

For me, infertility is also a different kind of grief than others I’ve experienced because it’s so repetitive — month after month I experience the loss over and over. The wound I’m desperately trying to heal gets torn open again. Just when I’ve built up some hope again for this month’s treatment it seems that my period arrives and I’m drowning again in the waves of grief. And while I’m drowning, reminders of what I’m missing are everywhere I go and everywhere I look. So I have to be patient with myself while I survive my bad days. I cannot seem to escape them, and the only way out seems to be through. I have to let myself feel and accept the losses, the disappointment, the overwhelming heartbreak. I need to sit with my grief.

The simple rephrasing of what I was doing allowed me to to completely reframe how I felt about my grief. It allowed me to let go of any guilt about my grief so that I can better work through it, to experience it, and to carry on. Nothing in my behavior had really changed, yet I felt more free to experience my grief after I started to think about it differently. My grief may not be well understood by society or my loved ones, but that doesn’t mean it’s not appropriate. I have every right to take all the time I need to sit with my grief and heal from it in my own way.

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Toasting Our Survival

toasting_our_survivalMonths ago when we sat down and planned out our first few weeks of date nights I included “bubble bath & champagne” in our list. During that first bubble bath while drinking champagne, it occurred to me how much I really liked champagne… and by champagne I mean a sparkling wine because “real” champagne is only from a certain part of France and the kind we like is from somewhere else… it’s sweeter. In fact, when we asked for it to be served at our wedding we were informed it was a “downgrade” because it wasn’t the real stuff. We didn’t care. It’s yummy. Anyway, I digress. I decided then and there in the bathtub that every month following, whenever my period arrived, we would treat ourselves to a bottle of champagne. Not to celebrate another month of disappointment and loss, certainly not that, but instead to celebrate each other and our survival of another month trekking through hell trying to grow our family. Because survival is truly what we are doing, and every month that this pain doesn’t swallow me whole is a month worth celebrating.

When people first learn about our little champagne celebration I always have to explain that we’re celebrating our survival; it’s not some dark humoured celebration of our losses. Nor are we trying to drink our worries away. It’s just that after a month of hoping and dreaming and going through treatment, just to be disappointed again, it’s nice to take a few minutes to toast each other and indulge in a sweet, bubbly treat while we celebrate our survival.

I’ve chosen the word “survival” carefully… However, with that said, I’m not sure how intentional it was when we first started our champagne celebrations. I think at that time, the word just seemed right. But in the months since as I’ve shared with friends our little tradition and had time to process it more, I’ve come to the point of using the word survival very intentionally. I’ve seen things online of “overcoming infertility” or “battling infertility”… but thinking of it in terms of survival resonates more with me.

Thinking of “overcoming” or “battling” my infertility doesn’t sit well with me for a couple of reasons. To start, considering I’m still in the middle of my infertility, using words like “overcome” seems a bit ahead of the game, and I wouldn’t want to tempt fate by suggesting that I’ve already overcome it. I haven’t. And when will my infertility be “overcome”? Will it be overcome if and when I finally hold my own child in my arms? Because if that is it, what if that day never comes? Then I’ll have failed to overcome infertility, or lost the battle. Right? Wrong. I don’t want to think that if we end up childless that we’ll be the losers in this. I like to hope that if we end up childless we’ll make our peace with it and that we’ll be ok. Instead of feeling like “overcoming” is empowering me, it makes me feel like it’s setting me up for failure because I’m just not sure where I’m going to end up.

The thought of my infertility as a battle doesn’t sit well with me either. A battle seems to imply to me that there might be a disastrous end to this. Battles mean people die. And while I have had an enormous amount of loss during this process, including an ectopic pregnancy, thinking of my baby being a causality in a battle is disturbing and sad. Battles also imply weapons…  and while I have days where I do feel like I’m pulling out big guns to fight this problem I have, I’m ultimately trying to create life, not destroy it. So battle terminology doesn’t resonate with me.

But survival. It does. Survival may not seem very empowering, but it is to me. It might not be for anyone else, but it’s right for me. It’s not arrogant or destructive, and it acknowledges that something terrible is happening, but that I’ve made it through, or rather that I’m making my way through. I’m doing my best to keep going, to grasp at threads of hope even when I feel like I’ve reached the end of the rope. Surviving my infertility means to me that it’s not keeping me down forever. I do have (lots of) bad days, but so far I have made it through those bad days 100% of the time… So I’m going to plan on continuing to survive. The journey is hard, and has been full of heartbreak and despair, but surviving it means I’m going to keep going regardless of where this crazy road is taking us. And along the way, I’m going to occasionally toast with Matt our amazing ability to continue forward together.

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3,000 sqft and a table for two

3000 sqft and a table for twoIn 2014, a few months before we started trying to conceive, Matt and I decided to buy a bigger house for our soon-to-be growing family. We were planning to start trying in the late spring and assumed that I’d be pregnant in no time. I was young and healthy; Matt and I were stable and happy. We decided that it would be best to get moved and settled before I was pregnant. We found a house sooner than we expected and got our old house ready to sell. We were thrilled and ready to start this new chapter in our lives. We closed on our new house in early March, and over the next couple of months we worked on the house, painted nearly every ceiling and wall, replaced light fixtures, cleaned every surface, and moved in. We started feeling at home in our new place.

The new house has four bedrooms. It has an open floor plan. It has an unfinished basement — ready and waiting for us to expand into and enjoy. The house is perfectly situated near the end of a quiet cul-de-sac and has a lovely little backyard. It’s within walking distance of our neighborhood’s elementary school and middle school. We knew for sure that soon the house would be filled with our children. We were so excited. We left one of the upstairs bedrooms completely empty, knowing it would be filled soon with baby furniture. We didn’t paint that room either — I wanted to match the paint to the baby’s bedding that we would be picking out very soon. We called it the baby room. When I was at my parents’ for Thanksgiving that year I loaded up and brought back my childhood rocking chair, stuffed animals, and a box of Winnie the Pooh decor. I already knew how I wanted to decorate the baby room.

The baby room sat empty for over a year. At first it wasn’t a big deal. I knew some couples took longer to conceive than others. Most of my friends had gotten pregnant after three months… one took six months, another eight months. After nine months and an annual exam at the women’s clinic where my nurse practitioner frowned upon my crazy and unpredictable cycles, I started to feel like we were in trouble. We scheduled an appointment to see a doctor at the clinic that my nurse practitioner recommended.

After three unsuccessful rounds of clomid with Dr. 1, I informed Matt that we were going to paint the baby room and turn it into a second guest room. I was tired of the empty room. It was mocking me and filling me with sadness. And it made me mad. We were ready for our child. We had a room waiting and a house much too big for just the two of us! Where was our baby?

We painted the room green because we had a gallon of green paint that we had decided wasn’t right for the kitchen cabinets but would be fine in a bedroom. We had already painted the ceiling and changed out the light fixture. We painted the walls, cleaned the woodwork, replaced the outlets and light switches (mind you, we’d already purchased child proof outlets for the entire house, as well as outlets with built in nightlights) and moved in the furniture. We had a futon in the office that we could lay flat and dress as a bed. We also had a few lamps and a chest in the basement we weren’t using anywhere else. We put the room together, and I bought new bedding. Now we call it the green guest room. We already have the purple guest room.

When I was pregnant, before we knew it was ectopic, we went into the green guest room and I shared with Matt all of my plans for the placement of the furniture and the awesome tree bookcase I’d like my dad to help build for our child’s books. My dreams were finally coming true; we were going to have a baby and our house was going to have a child in it! The dream was short lived. The baby room turned back into the green guest room the day Dr. 2 told us that the baby was definitely in the fallopian tube.

Putting the guest room together was a good thing and definitely something we needed to do… but I’d be lying if I said that cured it of its reminder of our child’s absence. It hasn’t. Our children are still missing from our house. That room, the backyard, the basement, and in general the whole house are reminders of what we had dreamed of and hoped for when we bought this house, and what it’s still missing. We bought our first house intending it to be our starter home for just the two of us. It was wonderful and it served us well. We bought this house intending to grow our family in it. Two and a half years later and we have yet to see that dream realized. I haven’t given up hope, but that doesn’t mean the house isn’t still a little painful.

Sometimes I wonder if we should have waited to buy a house until I was pregnant? If I had known then what I know now what would we do? But that question isn’t quite fair. If I had known then what I know now I’d simply adjust my expectations so that I wouldn’t be so full of despair. We didn’t know and we decided to buy a bigger home. So I’ve decided to be grateful for what this house has brought us, even though it also reminds me of what we don’t have.

I am thankful that we had the opportunity to purchase this house when we did. Since we bought this house the housing market here has gone totally nuts. If sold today it wouldn’t even be in our price range anymore… which would be sad because our home is wonderful. Even if we never fill it with children, we love the house, the location, our neighbors, the walking paths, and the views of the mountains just outside the neighborhood.

This house has also provided many opportunities for home improvement and decorating projects, and if there’s one thing that’s good for distracting us from our infertility sorrows it’s a good project. Our last house was practically perfect (in every way!) when we sold it, so if we had stayed there, we wouldn’t have had any projects left on the home front to keep us busy. I’m grateful for the time we’ve spent together working on our house and the improvements we’ve made.

So here we are… In our big house near the elementary school, with four bedrooms, an unfinished basement, a fenced in backyard, and no children. Our dining table is set for two and there are no high chairs in sight. But I can still see my child in this house. I’m still hoping to turn that guest room into a baby room… Still hoping to one day finish the basement and watch my kids have slumber parties in the basement family room and camp outs in the back yard. The house is a reminder of the hopes and dreams we had two and a half years ago and it encourages me to keep going. We’re ready.

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