Due Date

After shrieking with joy and sharing the news with Matt, one of the first things I did after finding out I was pregnant last summer was calculate the due date for our baby: February 6, 2017. This date has been imprinted on my heart from that day. And after months of waiting, it’s finally here.  

But our months of waiting didn’t unfold the way we expected. After finding out that my pregnancy was ectopic, the dreams of our future child were crushed and our hearts were shattered. Our months of waiting for a baby’s due date turned into months of grief, recovery, more fertility treatments, and waiting for another pregnancy.

Back in June when I first imagined February 6th, I pictured meeting my child today. But that’s not happening; I’m not holding our child in my arms, listening to her cry, or watching her open her eyes. I’m not going to be awake all night tending to her or memorizing her every feature while she sleeps.

Instead, today I’m reflecting on life, loss, and love. I’m grieving our loss and feeling the emptiness in my arms and my quiet home. Tonight we lit a candle in memory of our pregnancy, of a child we never had the chance to meet. I’m remembering the joy I felt and dreams I had when I was pregnant. And I’m feeling love. I feel my love for Matt and the love that urged us to want to become parents together. I feel my love for the child I carry in my heart instead of my arms, and love for a future child I hope to still bring into our family.

We begin the egg stimulation phase of IVF soon, and today (of all days) I had my final check-up and lab work before the injections begin. When I first saw the date for the appointment I was a little freaked out, but I’ve decided to take it as a sign of love and good luck that we were given the green light to proceed today, on my due date. We’re moving forward with love and science in the hope that soon we’ll have a new due date to look forward to, one that will turn into a birthdate of a living child.

Today we’re honoring our due date with memories of my pregnancy, hope for the future, and love for each other and our family — family who live among us and family who live in our hearts.

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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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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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