Well into the delestrogen injections, it’s a different type of experience in the fifth round, a round most will never find themselves in, particularly when it comes to using donor eggs. I am practicing sanity but it only seems to last for a day or two when the slippery slope approaches and I simply look at my husband and say, “I’m going downhill now.”
One of the things I appreciated hearing the other day at lunch with a friend, one who’d suffered 2 miscarriages herself, was not the typical comforting words but the simple statement of “I know our situations are different.” You see, she has 2 kids and never had the infertility battle that comes with IVF. But she has experienced two tremendous losses, and that she gets. She knows this part of my experience, but doesn’t pretend to know it all. But she’s shown up, and that’s what matters.
Having been doing this for so long and practicing being as open as humanly possible about my experience as I write this blog, we all know that it’s a different story when you get out into the real world. A client the other day asked me if I had kids and I remember my voice trailing off when I said no, we’ve been trying for a long time… I’m not even sure if the last part was audible, to be honest. Another woman who was a candidate earlier this year who is now a client knows what I’ve been through on both counts – IVF and miscarriage – because at some point when we met up I decided to disclose what I was going through.
“I kept so much of what I went through quiet because of my feelings of failure, but now I realize that’s truly ridiculous and I feel a responsibility to use my big fat mouth to talk about this issue.”
~ Nia Vardalos (talking about her struggles with infertility, 13 rounds of IVF, and adoption)
That’s always a leap to tell the outside world, because as we all know, if we disclose any type of weakness, we open ourselves up – particularly as women – to being perceived as weak, as less capable, as a “risk factor” to our colleagues, clients, companies, etc. Not to mention an object of pity, and the idiotic comments that end up reopening the wounds that came from the early days when we discovered what more ‘experienced’ IVFers already know about – the classic comments encouraging that we ‘just relax’ or the ones from those who have kids telling us to ‘never give up, your baby will come when (s)he’s ready’. I’d stopped calling out folks for a while on the latter comment, but recently I went through another moment where I did put it out there on blog comments of those saying this that they need to Cut. That. Shit. Out.
Their comments are never to intentionally hurt, but as I’ve said before, telling women that they should not give up trying to start a family is inherently disrespectful, as it implies that it’s NOT okay to end the journey. It’s not simply a numbers game where if you try long enough you’re guaranteed a baby. Some of us never ‘win’ the game, whether it be due to physical, mental, financial, or all three reasons. Some of us come to the place where they remember THEY are their first priority – not their uterus – and need to focus on living life away from injections and hormonal side effects. Some are out of money and/or are paying off those credit cards and loans that financed treatment. Some have seen relationships take a hit and want to get their marriage back on track after it’d been solely focused on baby production for how many number of years. Some have watched their own mental health decline as a result of so many fails and losses, and need to find the sun again.
So I say this to all my sistas out there fighting the good fight, who are contemplating whether they should or should not stop:
IT IS OKAY TO GIVE UP. IT IS OKAY TO DO WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU. IT IS OKAY TO GIVE YOU AND YOUR PARTNER PERMISSION TO MOVE ON AND CHASE OTHER DREAMS. IT IS OKAY TO CLOSE THE CHAPTER, WHETHER IT’S TEMPORARILY OR FOR GOOD. YOU ARE NO LESS OF A STRONG WOMAN IF YOU SAY NO, I WILL NO LONGER SUBJECT MYSELF TO THIS INTENSE STRESS AND PAIN. YOU ARE STRONGER WHEN YOU LISTEN TO YOUR GUT AND NOT MAKE DECISIONS BASED UPON THE ADVICE OF OTHERS.
IT’S OKAY TO CHOOSE YOU.
And Speaking of Mental Health…
It’s been an interesting start to Cycle Five. My side effects thus far to the estrogen shots have been shockingly minimal if anything at all. Usually when I kick off a new cycle, my body does what I affectionately refer to as “sinking”. The estrogen coursing through me literally made me feel like I had weights attached to my body, pulling me down in exhaustion, thickening my mind and sapping my energy levels. What I’m guessing is that was my fucking thyroid reacting to the estrogen surges in my body, since my past TSH levels after IVF have ranged from 5.1 – 8.0, double to triple what it should be at. On this new compounded thyroid medication and Low-Dose Naltrexone mixed with Vitamin D, I’m not sinking. My weight has not gone up in the past two weeks, I’m sleeping like a rock, and my only stressors have remained the post-miscarriage panic attacks.
I know. “Only”. Right? But seriously, can you imagine wading through the existing grief and then adding more shit on top of it because of estrogen hormones you’re voluntarily having your husband shoot you up in the ass with? Sweet. Now it’s not like I’m expecting everything to be roses and rainbows and glitter, y’all. As soon as I hit “publish” I could go stumbling right into that chasm of crazy that usually comes with this. But hey, so far so good and I’ll celebrate every little chewable bite-size bit of sanity that comes my way.
On a professional mental health note, this past week we both snagged an hour apiece with our phenomenal therapist to talk about what’s happened and what’s to come. October 8th, just 3 days after our transfer, will mark the one year anniversary of our first DEIVF transfer of four altogether, that followed two unsuccessful IUIs, which was after many OPKs, fertility acupuncture and lots of TCM supplements, which was after getting shitty AMH/FSH results back at the start of 2015. (And here we were a year ago insistent on only transferring one because we were so sure it would work and were trying to prevent twins. Well, 5 embryos later…). Anyhow, the conversations with our counselor were really good, and on my end, the focus is really on continuing to look at things one day at a time. Everyone keeps asking me, “what will you do if…” type of questions and I’m just refusing to answer them. Every answer is the same: we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. All this time we’ve talked contingency planning and have learned it doesn’t matter. The stress, the heartache, the joy and excitement? It will happen whether we plan for it or not, and for too long we’ve been trying to get ahead of the game. No more.
Our focus is what’s happening TODAY. Period.