In the Waiting Time

It is an honor to have my writing included in Emily R. Long’s book In the Waiting Time: Messages from Infertility Warriors. My letter posted below is one of 22 letters included in the book –letters written for, and by, individuals with infertility. I hope that our messages and our stories can help readers find community, validation, support, and hope as they navigate their infertility.

To my heartbroken friend,

Let me begin by telling you how sorry I am that you are experiencing infertility. I’m sorry you are hurting. I wish I could tell you some magic words to make all of this stop happening and to heal your hurting heart. But I can’t. After everything I’ve been through, I still don’t have the answers. Infertility is so hard and complicated. Instead, I will share some of my experience in the hopes that it will help you to feel less alone. I’m also writing in an attempt to give you hope that you will get through this, one day at time.

My infertility is a story of half agony, half hope. The agony was heavy, horrible, and heartbreaking. Hope was so hard to find at times that I wasn’t sure there was any left, but I knew I needed it to keep going. For so long I felt lost in a dark place with my heart broken, trying to collect all of the pieces and put them back together; trying to make sense of the mess around me and the uncertainty of my future; trying to keep functioning, despite feeling so broken, angry, and alone.

The grief I experienced during my years of infertility was overwhelming. Each and every cycle of failure was heartbreaking, and the accumulation of losses felt nearly unbearable. I grieved the loss of so many hopes and dreams; the loss of what I expected life to be like; the loss of my first pregnancy which was ectopic; the loss of friends who did not stand by me; the losses of time, energy, and money. My infertility was profound grief on so many levels. 

I had some really, really hard days. At times I failed to see the point of my life at all. I didn’t want to move or get dressed. I didn’t want to visit with friends. When I was drowning in grief, I simply had nothing to say and making small talk was unbearable. In between episodes of intense grief, I felt numb. I would go through the motions of my day, without real awareness or any enthusiasm I might normally have. I would try to be “normal” at work, try to smile or make jokes… then I’d return home and stare at the wall. I felt like I was living a lie, like no one could actually see me and the pain I was in.

It’s almost easy to forget how hard bad days can be once they are over… I had a lot of ups and downs during infertility, and each time I found myself having really, really hard days again I was amazed that I even made it through days like that before. I looked back at previous dark days and I wondered how the hell I got through them.

The only answer I can come up with is: one day at a time.

I don’t know the secret to getting through bad days. I don’t know the secret to fixing a broken heart or surviving grief. But I know that all of these are experiences I had to work through. There’s no detour for getting around this kind of agony. There are things I did to help myself along the way… but in the end, the only way out of a hard experience is through it — one hard day at a time. 

So one day at a time, I tried to take care of myself. I let myself feel sad. I sat around and cried. A lot. I turned down social invitations and ignored phone calls. I spent hours reading about infertility, about grief, about hope. I went to a support group, where I met and spent time with friends who understood what I was going through. I wrote in my journal. I blogged. My husband did his best to support me, and I was so lost in my own grief that I rarely even thought to ask how I might help him. Grief sometimes looks selfish, but it’s not; grieving is hard, personal work, and it must be done to find healing.

And one day at a time, I looked for hope. Everywhere. I learned to redefine what hope looked like when all hope was lost: what can I hope for now? I needed hope that my life would be beautiful again, that I wouldn’t always be living in the agony of infertility. And while we kept hoping for a living child, we were faced with the possibility of life without one, so we kept hoping that we’d be able to find peace with wherever life took us. I celebrated small things, everyday things. I went on walks and practiced yoga. I ate chocolate and drank champagne. I watched my favorite TV shows and colored intricate designs. I planted flowers and trees. I practiced gratitude. I looked for rainbows, for all of the good things in my life, the lights shining in the darkness: friends, experiences, moments.

Writing everything down like this makes it sound like I did a great job taking care of myself and navigating my grief, but that’s certainly not how it felt in the moment. It felt horrible and like it was never going to end. Trying to grow my family was the hardest thing I have ever done. I remember telling my mom that I wished I could just be sedated until it was all over, but that wasn’t an option. So I did what I had to do to continue on and get through each day.

I don’t know what you’ll need to do to get through your days while you wait, grieve, and hope; while you face hard decisions and an uncertain future. My hope for you is that you will be gentle with yourself and take care of yourself, one day at a time. Time is healing, and while infertility may always hurt some, it won’t always be this agonizing. No one knows how or when your infertility will be resolved, but you won’t always be in this dark painful place. In some way you will be able to move forward in a direction and things will get better. By taking care of yourself in many small ways, you’ll be able to get through this one day at a time.

It’s hard to be stuck in a place of half agony and half hope, and I know you might feel alone in the darkness — I often did — but there are others traveling alongside you right now, and there are those of us who have been there before. You are not alone. I see you. I feel your heartache, and I mourn with you. I’m holding light and hope for you, sending my love, and wishing you peace.


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 Infertility is waiting… waiting… waiting…

Infertility is waiting for the small things. Waiting for appointments. Waiting to see doctors. Waiting to see nurses. Waiting to see phlebotomists. Waiting for test results. Waiting to start my next treatment. Waiting for the next phase in my treatment. Waiting two weeks. Waiting for more test results. And waiting to start over. Again.

Infertility is waiting for the big things. Waiting for a healthy pregnancy. Waiting to meet my child and bring him or her home. Waiting to hold her in my arms. Waiting to get to know him. Waiting to watch her smile and laugh. Waiting to soothe his cries. Waiting to watch her grow.

Infertility is waiting to feel like myself again physically. Waiting for the miserable side effects of treatment medications and procedures to subside. Waiting for the rashes from surgery adhesives and bandages to heal. Waiting for my bruising and injection sites to heal. Waiting for scars to fade. Infertility is waiting for when miserable side effects are from a healthy pregnancy or from keeping up with a child.

Infertility is waiting to feel like myself again emotionally. Waiting for my grief to lift. Waiting to feel content or maybe even happy. Waiting to feel fulfilled. Waiting to feel connected to others again. Waiting to feel relaxed and comfortable with the unknowns in my future. Waiting to make plans again. Waiting to feel joy when I see babies and small children. Waiting to feel whole once more. Waiting for my broken heart to heal.

Infertility is waiting for my lifelong dream of being a mother to come true. For three years we’ve been ready and waiting for good news. We’re waiting to begin our next chapter together. Waiting to move forward. Waiting for this agonizing wait to end.

Infertility is waiting… waiting… waiting for our child.

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Infertility is…

It was hard to first admit to myself that we were experiencing infertility… By the time I did, we’d already found out I wasn’t ovulating on my own, and as a result I’d been through three cycles of clomid. Even though I had already started fertility treatments, I didn’t consider myself “infertile” because we hadn’t been trying for a whole year yet. Sure, my first diagnosis and those first few treatments were hard, but I told myself that we were just delayed, that everything was going to be fine because they had found a correctable problem.

But when those treatments failed and we hit our year mark of trying, it was time to admit that we were struggling with infertility. At that time we took a few months off treatments to give my body a rest and to give ourselves a break, and I started researching infertility — some things about treatments, of course, but mostly I researched coping with infertility. Because with infertility (at least for me!) there’s a lot more to consider than just the physical problems preventing a healthy pregnancy… Admitting to myself that I was experiencing infertility meant that I was struggling with not only my body and its inability to conceive, but also all of the ways infertility impacted my well being.

The technical description of infertility might only include the failure to conceive or carry a baby to term in a 12 month period, but “infertility” means so much more than that to me. The one line definition I find in the dictionary doesn’t cut it for me. Infertility has wreaked havoc all over my life, and as the months go by, my experience with infertility has packed more and more meaning into the word “infertility”. It has become so compounded in my mind, it means so many things, that I’ve decided to write a series of posts on what my infertility is, what it is like, and what it feels like for me. My posts will by no means be a complete list of what infertility is, nor will they be representative of all infertility experiences; rather, my posts will be about my own experience with infertility. I’m just hoping to shed some light on what my infertility is to help my loved ones understand and to help others who are experiencing infertility feel understood.

So if infertility is more than the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term, what is it? What is my infertility like?

Infertility is living with constant disappointment and uncertainty, in a surreal world where I constantly can’t believe what’s happening to me. It is having to face my own anger and jealousy, and feeling isolated. Infertility is waiting. It is grieving. It is trying to remain hopeful despite months and months of heartache and disappointment. Infertility is being brave enough to face my reality, one day at a time, and decide what to do with this unexpected and unwanted direction.

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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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Mixed Emotions

As we prepare to begin the stimulation phase of IVF in a few weeks, I have been thinking hard about all of the things I’m feeling… and it’s certainly a mix. Many people assume that I’m feeling very excited and optimistic, and while I certainly do feel those things right now, I also have some darker feelings that I need to acknowledge. It’s most important for me to acknowledge them to myself, but I figured it can’t hurt too much to share some of them here for anyone seeking validation on their IVF feelings or anyone wanting to know how I am really feeling.

So I won’t lie. I’ll be honest. I’ll admit my feelings — the good and the bad.

I’m feeling scared about IVF. Scared of the numerous needles, injections, and blood draws. Scared of surgery. Scared of all of the side effects that might occur. I had to sign 44 pages of consent forms, and while not all of those were related to the medications and procedures, many of them were. I’m scared of how I’ll feel when I know the final mature egg count, the fertilization count, and healthy embryo count. Mostly I’m scared of what we’re going to do if IVF doesn’t work.

I’m feeling disappointed. There was a little hope inside me that a miracle would occur between October (when we signed up for IVF) and now and I’d get pregnant naturally. I was hoping I’d be one of those people who’d sign up for IVF and my lucky pregnancy would happen and there’d be no need for IVF. I’ve known for months and months that our chances of natural conception are ridiculously small, but it’s hard to silence the little internal voice that hopefully whispers to me, “what if this is the month?”

I’m feeling a little surprised that we’re going to do IVF. The surprise feeling is two fold. First: I’ve written about how I never thought I’d do IVF, but here we are. Second: we fully expected IUIs to work. My ectopic pregnancy was the result our first IUI after all, but in the three IUIs following my pregnancy, our male factor infertility problem was confirmed and there’s some concern about how much damage my ectopic pregnancy might have actually caused. Therefore, even though I’ve come to terms with our decision to pursue IVF, it’s still a little surprising to me that we’re actually going to do it — we thought we’d already found a successful treatment.

I’m feeling a little angry. And before anyone judges me and thinks that I shouldn’t be angry — bear with me, because infertility truly sucks. How could it *not* cause some anger? How could my pregnancy loss *not* cause some anger? These experiences are horrible. They are heartbreaking and difficult. They are unfair. They happen to good people who don’t deserve it. So yes, I’m feeling a little angry that we’re at the point where the challenging process of IVF is our best option. Natural conception aside, we were *so hopeful* that the other treatments we’ve tried would work, but they didn’t. After nearly two years of treatments, we’re very frustrated, and a little angry, to still be without a living child in our arms.

Luckily I also have some good feelings about IVF — I’m starting to feel excited about the possibility of success. I am starting to feel optimistic. Right now IVF looks like our best chance for bringing a baby into our family. Dr. Two believes that our odds for success are good, and that is exciting.

I’m also feeling grateful that we’re good candidates for IVF and that we’re able to move forward and give it a try. Not everyone who experiences infertility is eligible for or able to do IVF and I’m thankful that we are. I’m glad for the opportunity and so grateful for the support we have as we pursue it.

All of that said, the emotion that’s really ruling the day right now is feeling ready for IVF. At least as ready as I can be. How can one truly prepare for this anyway? I believe I’ve done as much as I can to prepare for what’s ahead. I have read and read and read; I have showered my medical team with questions; I have asked previous IVF patients about their experiences. And I am ready to give this treatment all we’ve got. I’m ready for needles, blood draws, and injections. I’m ready to keep track of hormone levels and dosage amounts. I’m ready to handle the bruises and manage side effects. I’m ready for ultrasounds. I’m ready for surgery and transfer.

We’ve been waiting and waiting for some good news and we’re ready for it. I’m ready to become pregnant and bring home a healthy baby in the end. And if the outcome of our IVF cycle is bad, I’m not sure that any amount of preparation would have been adequate… so we’ll take it one day at a time, and survive together — good news or bad. I am scared and disappointed and surprised and even a little angry. I am excited and optimistic and full of gratitude. But I’m also ready, and at this point, I think that’s what matters the most.

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Coming to Terms with IVF

I’ll admit it: I used to say that I’d never do IVF if I couldn’t get pregnant. I used to tell myself I’d accept that pregnancy wasn’t in the cards for me and I’d stop pursuing it.

But then again, I never imagined that I would actually have any difficulty getting pregnant, and I never imagined that I would lose a pregnancy either. I used to assume that I would be able to get pregnant easily, naturally, and when I wanted, and further, that every baby of mine would come home with me alive and well.

However, life doesn’t always unfold the way we think it’s going to, and I’ve learned just how naive I used to be. Since I never truly expected to be infertile, I think it was easy for me to pretend like I knew exactly what I would do if I were. But I was wrong. Back then I knew nothing about infertility. I knew nothing about all of the reasons why someone might pursue IVF or other fertility treatments. And I knew nothing about the deep love that’s possible for a child who doesn’t even exist yet.

As it turns out, it’s a lot harder to make decisions when it’s your reality instead of a hypothetical situation. At every step of the way during our infertility journey I’ve had to let go of expectations, and at times re-examine old opinions. Infertility has reminded me how important it is to try to keep an open mind, and to be more accepting of my own decisions and others’ decisions too… because it’s quite hard to know what we would do in a certain situation until we’re actually in it ourselves, facing the facts and handling our emotions.

There are many things I didn’t know about infertility until we were infertile, and learning them has definitely given me a new perspective on fertility treatments. To start: infertility is random bad luck. No one I know deserves their infertility — it just happens. And it sucks. On top of that, infertility can strike in so many different ways. In our case, I have some problems, Matt has some problems, and our infertility is also a bit unexplained… which leads me to another thing that I’ve learned: there are many things about infertility that the medical community has yet to understand.

But just because we have some medical problems, maybe even some undiagnosed ones, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a biological child “isn’t in the cards” for us. Like we would do with most diseases, we are attempting to treat the disease of infertility. At this point in our journey, treating our infertility and doing what we can to attempt a pregnancy still feels like the right choice. Doctors and scientists have worked hard to come up with some ways to correct reproductive problems or work around them, and luckily for us, there is still a treatment that we’re good candidates for trying: IVF.

While this may not be the right choice for everyone, right now IVF is the right choice for us, so we’re moving forward with it. It definitely took a lot of thought and preparation to get there, but it feels right. We’re hopeful that IVF will help to bypass some of the problems that are preventing us from conceiving, and bring us the good news we’ve been waiting so long to hear.

I’ve also come to realize through infertility that my old self didn’t fully appreciate all of the ways in which people can enter into parenthood. For most people, their route is through natural conception. For others it is adoption. For some it is through assisted reproductive technologies like IUI or IVF, and may also include third party sperm donors, egg donors, and/or gestational carriers. There are so many ways to build a family, and all of them are valid and beautiful… And as long as Matt and I attempt to build our family out of love, I think we’re headed in the right direction. Sure, this particular direction may not have been in our original plan, but directional changes in life are expected… after all, isn’t that what happens when we live and learn, and love?

From where I’m standing now, I can see that IVF provides us an opportunity for a chance at conception that we might not otherwise have. We’ve explored other options. We’ve tried other methods of conceiving. Now we’re to the point where our best chance for bringing home a baby lies in pursuing IVF. So we’re all in. We’re going to embrace the science, hope for the best, and continuing loving each other and the child we’re trying so hard to bring to our lives.

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New Year

The very first lettering I posted on my musings blog last year was this one:

I lettered it on January 5, 2016.

It was actually the quote that inspired me to start practicing my lettering. I had found the quote in the late fall of 2015, and I could see the door opening with hope shining through. After some thought I decided that perhaps it would be a good start to practice hand lettering, so in early January last year I sat down with pen and paper and illustrated and lettered the quote.

It came out just how I’d imagined it and I was so pleased to have been able to capture on paper what my mind’s eye had seen… I also thought it was the perfect sentiment to start out the new year. The quote really, really resonated with me… I believed that after what had happened in 2014 and 2015, the new year of 2016 *had* to be a happier year. It had to be.

But it wasn’t. 2016 was pretty miserable for me.

I think about that quote now and how much I believed it a year ago, and I kind of feel like a fool. Looking at this illustration that I once loved actually makes me cringe now. It’s sad. But really, just because I’m hoping life will be better doesn’t mean it will be. Turns out that when you think things can’t possibly get worse, sometimes they do…

And I know things can always get even worse, but I’m not trying to get philosophical or competitive. The facts are that 2016 sucked for us. It doesn’t matter to me what else could have gone wrong too, because in the end, it was not a great year for us. It was full of loss, grief, disappointment, bad news, and tears. Full of procedures, needles, and waiting, waiting, waiting. Last year was full of writing and reading about infertility, and trying (and often failing) to communicate to my loved ones about the extent of my heartache.

And on top of my personal struggles, I feel like our world in general had a bad year. I feel like our nation is crumbling… it feels divided and full of hate. I fear for our future. And the international community is struggling too, with wars and terrorism, refugees and immigration… Every time I turned around in 2016, I felt like there was another horrible thing happening somewhere, either in the US or abroad. 2016 was a tough year for us and, I think, for the world at large too.

And yet, despite all of our loss and heartache, our disappointments and fears, I have a full journal with an entry every day since February 10th of things that I am thankful for.

Life is funny like that sometimes… It may have been a really bad year for us, but because of my gratitude journaling, it’s also probably the year I’m most aware of the things for which I’m grateful. Practicing gratitude certainly doesn’t negate or remove the bad things; it doesn’t fix anything that’s going wrong; it doesn’t fulfill wishes and dreams… but it does remind me that not everything is horrible; it has helped me to be more aware of things that are good in my life; it has helped me to find some balance in this miserable time.

So while I do hope that 2017 will be better, I’m not necessarily counting on it. 2016 reminded me that sometimes things don’t get better. I have no idea what’s going to happen this year… and I’m trying to be realistic. At this point, we’re still trekking through a lot of misery, and we can’t see the way out yet — we don’t know where we’re going.

What I can count on in 2017 is knowing that we have the ability to survive our grief, and the ability to continue finding and creating peace and joy. As we move into this new year we will hang on to a bit of hope that things will in fact get better; we will to continue to look for the light; and we will continue to pay attention to the bits of joy and peace that are present in our lives. In this new year, in whatever comes our way, we will continue to look for the good.

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Our Never-ending Chapter

never-ending_chapterIf I think of life like a story, I feel like Matt and I have been stuck in the same chapter of trying to grow our family for too long. Months. Years. We read the same sections, pages, and sentences over and over, unable to move forward in our story. Unable to turn the page and start the next chapter. We might inch forward with a new treatment, only then to remain stuck there while we give it “enough” tries. And when it ultimately fails, it feels like we’ve been sent back to the beginning of the section to start over with a new plan… Scratch out that paragraph and try this one instead. Let’s see if it goes somewhere else… We’ve tried so hard to turn the page and continue forward in our story, and it stubbornly remains unwilling to turn over, refusing to budge at all.

The one time we did move forward into the “pregnant” chapter, it was so short and had a tragic ending. Then we found ourselves in what’s probably going to be a lifelong “recovery and healing” chapter, and at the same time back in the familiar old “trying to conceive” chapter. I hated that chapter before, and I hate it now. It’s exhausting and miserable.

While we remain stuck in our “trying to conceive” chapter, most of the couples we know are swiftly moving right through theirs and into their early chapters of parenthood. We know couples who started trying to conceive way after us who already have their babies at home with them. We even know couples who have gotten married, conceived, and given birth to their child in the time we have been trying to build our family. We know couples who have given birth to more than one child (in singles, not multiples) in the time we have been trying. People tell me it’s not a race, and I know that… but when I’m getting lapped on the path to parenthood, I can’t help but to feel like a major loser who’s going nowhere.

We stand still, with our story stuck while the rest of the world moves forward in their stories around us. Sometimes it’s almost easy in our quiet home to forget how much time has passed, but when I see the changes in my loved ones’ families I am reminded that time is moving, children and families are growing, and Matt and I are stuck and alone.

I am trying not to let my infertility keep me stuck here forever. I’ve tried to move forward in other areas of my life — grow my business, explore areas of my creativity, volunteer, travel when we can… I’ve tried to explore some new chapters unrelated to parenthood. But it’s hard to get excited about moving forward anywhere else when the thing that’s most important to me hasn’t been attained yet. These things feel like side stories that give depth to the novel of our lives, but they are not advancing the main plot that I’m most interested in. Additionally it’s hard to even put focus on other things in my life because treating infertility is so physically, emotionally, and financially demanding. I’m stuck in treatment cycles and my schedule is dictated by appointments, medications, and managing side effects. Infertility takes over, despite my best efforts to contain it, and it limits my ability to participate in the other storylines in my life.

The story I most want to experience is being a mom. I’ve wanted to be a mom my whole life. Ask my kindergarten teacher — I went to school that year as a mom with my baby (doll) on “what do you want to be when you grow up day?” My whole life I have assumed I would be able to make that one dream come true. “You can be anything you want,” the world tells us. Unfortunately, that’s just not true for everyone. Conception is something that, for most of the population, requires no education, no money, no doctors, and nothing but getting busy with a partner; but for us, it has turned into an agonizing, multi-year, financial, physical, and emotional stressor filled with doctors and nurses, and way too many needles, exam tables, and tears.. And so far, it has left us empty and heartbroken.

I’m not usually one to skip to the end of the story and read the last page, but this is one story in which I’d love to get a glimpse of the ending. I’d love to know if it’s worth it to keep trying… Will we end up with children? Or are we just wasting time, money, and energy, and delaying the inevitable — having to accept our empty arms, empty home, and broken hearts?

Infertility has made me realize that my story might have a very different ending from what I expected… This part of our story has certainly not met expectations. I’d rate this chapter with zero out of five stars. It has sucked. And I have no idea where our story is going. But I do know that I don’t want to envision a different ending. I want the one I thought I’d have when I was five. I want to get into the chapter of being a mom with living children. I want my last chapter to be growing old with Matt and with our own family. I don’t want an alternate ending. That said, I know that the world isn’t fair and that we can’t always get what we want… I’m going to have to accept where my story goes whether I like it or not. I’m trying *so hard* to keep myself open to adjustments in my expectations, open to alternate endings, but that’s so much easier said than done. I’ve built up my expectations and dreams for my future since I was a very small child, and it has proven extremely difficult to envision something different.

We’re doing everything we can to guide our story in the direction we want, but this chapter we’re stuck in is horrible. I know that the only way out is through, so we keep on trying to move forward. Every month we read the revised paragraphs and then try to turn the page and start the next chapter. I know it will turn at some point, but I have know idea when and I don’t know what the next chapter will hold for us. All I really know is that this part of our story is miserable, and I’m so tired of being stuck here in this never-ending chapter of disappointment after disappointment. I hope we reach the end of this part soon. We are *so ready* to move forward.

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Sunday Funnies: TTC

We needed a laugh today, so I figured that a post of some infertility humor was in order. Enjoy!

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The Two Week Wait


By this point in our infertility journey I should be able to consider Matt and myself experts in practicing patience. After all, we have waited and waited and waited. We have waited in doctor’s offices and our local hospital. We have waited in labs and pharmacies. We have waited for phone calls and test results. We have waited each month to find out if I’m pregnant. We have waited for our child for over two years.

But even with all of that practice, the two week wait gets me every time. The two week wait is the two weeks we have to wait after ovulation to find out if this is finally our lucky month, and it’s agonizing. I end up anxious and preoccupied. I fluctuate between thinking of the next month’s treatment and how the dates will affect our schedules, and thinking of what my baby’s due date would be and how I’ll share the news with my family. I lose sleep, even though I’m exhausted from treatment. I become annoying and pester Matt with silly questions. I’m excited and fearful at the same time. The wait is difficult and practice has not made it easier… if anything, it just keeps getting harder.

Right now you might be thinking that pregnancy tests are so sensitive that I should just take one of those “six days before your expected period” varieties to end the agony. And you would be correct that they exist, but I’ve learned that those tests are not for me…

When we first started trying I was buying pregnancy tests every month, taking tests early and anxiously awaiting that desired double line. One problem with that is that the cost of these add up. Another is that these tests are not *that* accurate that early. I would read the statistics over and over trying to decide which percentage of accuracy I wanted so that I could pick the perfect day to satisfy my need to know while being fairly confident in the result. But this always failed me. The test would display one line every single time and even when the accuracy was high I would tell myself, “I might be in the 5%! I might still be pregnant! This test is garbage.” It was a waste and it made me crazy. I knew the test was probably telling the truth, but I still didn’t want to believe it. I actually got to the point where I stopped taking tests completely and just waited for my period to start. It seemed to eliminate some of the anxiety.

However, at this point, I can’t even test early because I have been receiving HCG trigger shots during my recent treatments — HCG is the hormone pregnancy tests measure — and the trigger shot delivers enough HCG for me to test positive on a pregnancy test for up to 12 days after the injection. So I truly can’t test early. I have to sit out the wait. Which is probably better… I’m not spending money on multiple tests each month, I’m not agonizing over how early to start testing, and I’m not telling myself over and over that the test *must* be wrong.

So I’m left with the full two week wait.

The two weeks before finding out if I’m pregnant is much harder than the first two weeks of the cycle, but it’s not just because it’s closer to finding out. In the first two weeks I’m having appointments at the office and the lab. I’m taking medications, receiving injections, and having IUIs. Sure, I’m feeling miserable all the time from the side effects, but at least I feel like I’m *doing something for the cause*. I feel useful even though the medications render me mostly useless. But the second two weeks aren’t like that. I do need that time to recover from the treatments and procedures, but I’m just waiting. Aside from taking care of myself, there’s not much I can do. The rest is out of my control.

While I wait my mind and body play games with me. The medications I’m on give me pretty much every early pregnancy symptom in the book… so when my girlfriends ask me if I feel different, I just don’t have a good response. Sure, I feel different from before I was treated with fertility medications, but otherwise no, the medications give me basically the same side effects every time. Even when I was pregnant, I didn’t feel more or less pregnant than any other month of treatment — that’s how powerful the side effects are for me. But even knowing that the medications give me the side effects, every month I fall victim to the belief that perhaps this month it is the real thing! And then I tell myself that I should know better and to stop getting so excited. But it could be! … it’s a vicious circle of overanalyzing every sensation in my body and every change, getting excited, and then telling myself to STOP. I try hard to moderate my expectations.

During the wait I try to keep myself busy and I try to stay calm, peaceful, and rested. When I’m not working or volunteering, I might read, go to the gym, take a walk, or watch an episode of Friends or the Gilmore Girls. I try to do something that might make me laugh. I make plans with friends. Matt and I go on date nights and try to plan fun activities for the couple days leading up to *the big day*. I repeat affirmations to stay positive. I practice mindful breathing, meditation, and prayer. I send love to myself, Matt, and our baby. I practice gratitude. I also practice napping pretty much every day… during the two week wait I’m so tired; the more medications they have added to my treatment, the more tired I have become. And while I lie there falling asleep I wonder if my baby is snuggling down in my uterus with me… the wondering never ends. Some things distract me better than others, some things calm my mind better than others… but at the end of the day I’m still left waiting and wondering and wishing for our child.

The two week wait tests Matt’s patience with me. My anxiety spills out nearly every day and I’ll ask him, “Do you think I’m pregnant?” He has answered this question so many times for months and months. Usually he’s quite patient… “I hope so,” he’ll reply and give me a squeeze. On really optimistic months, he’ll tell me, “Yes. I think you are!” When I’ve asked too many times, he’ll reply with something completely random and off topic as if I asked him a completely different question. I guess I don’t blame him… but I know he doesn’t really blame me for asking either. We’ve been waiting and waiting for our child.

The two week wait is so hard. I’ve sat here and written lots of words about it, but I’m not sure that I have managed to properly articulate how very hard it is to wait, and guess, and constantly be wondering what my body is up to and where our path is headed in the next month. Will we be scheduling a six week ultrasound to hear our baby’s heartbeat? Will we be sharing happy news with our families and friends? Or will we be scheduling an appointment to outline the next treatment plan? We’re just not sure yet. We have to wait to find out, but I’m tired of waiting… so please excuse me while I go ask Matt if he thinks I’m pregnant. I’m *sure* he knows the real answer this time.

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