Be Gentle

Disclaimer: I wrote this several months ago, right at the beginning of our 2nd round of IVF. It was written in a moment of sadness and vulnerability. I cried over it for days, but when I got it all out there, all the feelings that have been building for years, feelings that went away with my first pregnancy, and then came back even stronger the 2nd time around, I felt better. It was my first true experience with the catharsis of writing. I put it on a quiet little blog, that has been defunct for quite awhile. I believe there is a power in letting go, however, I never thought I would share myself so personally on this blog, my home in the online world. But I'm going to now, because how I felt that night is such a huge part of who I am as person, the journey I have been on, and is a document to my children of the love I have for them. This is me, one part of me, at my most fragile. I have come to realize that infertility will always be a part of me. But I wont always feel so sad, or lost, in fact, right now I feel pretty darn good. One day, whenever that comes, my years of trying for babies will come to an end. Our family will the one we fought/prayed/yearned for and I hope I will be at peace with that place when we arrive there, I think I will. It hasn't worked out the way we thought, our road hasn't always been easy, but as we look at this 2nd pregnancy, we realize it has been blessed. I think my experiences have shaped me, but they haven't defined me. It's still hard for me to put this out there, but I'm going to be brave, or crazy, or somewhere in between and do just that.

I have struggled with how to write this. How do I say this without sounding bitter, or desperate or angry. But it has been on my mind non-stop, and I'm feeling just fragile enough to write this and just brave enough to say it.

So, here is my story, what is it like living with infertility.

What can I say? It's seeing your life on hold, while you watch everyone's flying by. It's wanting something so precious, but increasingly elusive. It's wanting to hold a baby in your arms. Not someone else's baby, but your baby. It's wanting to be pregnant. To be sick. To have swollen ankles. To stay up all night, rocking a screaming newborn.

And trying, at first casually, then slightly worried, frantically, desperately, and devastatingly, numbingly.

It's trying everything, absolutely everything. It's being on prenatals, just in case. It's thinking about what you will be doing next year for Christmas, you know, when you have a baby. And then maybe next year. And then the year after that. It's planning how you will announce the news. For Easter we will put the good news in an Easter Egg, around Mother's Day we will give a rattle as a gift, for Halloween we will dress up as a Bun in the Oven.

It was maybe silly, but you spent hours thinking about it. And hours thinking about names. Writing them down. Trying different spellings. Realizing that Atticus Scott Stewart had an unfortunate acronym.

It's mourning the life you dreamed. It's trying to adjust to the might not's. It's protecting your increasingly delicate heart. It's sobbing every month, because you were a little late, you thought maybe this time. Month, after month, after month. 72 months of trying, 2,190 days of hoping.

It's being poked and prodded, and giving up blood, and urine. Tests that hurt, tests that are embarrassing, tests that are scary.

It's bolstering your heart, preparing for the worst, and hoping, in the tiniest place in your heart, for the best. Because if you don't, and a babe in arms isn't waiting, you know you could lose yourself.

It's being desperate to give all your love to a child. Children. It's imagining picnics, soccer games, vacations.

It's wanting to comb curly hair, or maybe straight, and wash freckly skin, or maybe clear. And sing songs about boogie monsters, and smell fresh washed hair, falling asleep with a little, warm body next to you.

It's being afraid to say things out loud, because you might make them true.

It's uncertainty. Deafening uncertainty. Overwhelming fear, that you put into a box. And try not to look in too.

It's lonely.

It's rejoicing in other mothers, other babies, other lives. But still not wanting to hear about the ease of others conceptions.

It's constant guilt. Guilt for those 5 years you waited. Guilt that you went to school first. Guilt that you were 27 when you decided now was the time. Oh, how naive you were, that you thought you could control this. That you had your life planned out. You're guilty for your age, for the time you have waited between IVF. If only you did this last year, you would have had a baby now. Your eggs would have been one year younger. One year more awesome. It's the fact that you even talk about eggs. That's weird.

It's staying quiet when told, "Adopt, then you will get pregnant. Think positive, then you will get pregnant. Try acupuncture, then you will get pregnant. Now you have Lucy, you will definitely get pregnant. Be grateful, you already have a baby." As if Lucy wasn't the sun that centers my world.

But, I dreamed of a family, of 5, then 4, then 3, then 2.

It's being positive for others, because they want you to be happy, but you really just want to say,"I'm devastated. I'm heartbroken."

It's being diagnosed with "unexplained," which basically means we don't know, which leads to, "we really can't say what will work and what wont." So it adds up to a high stakes guessing game.

It's shots, after shots, after shots, after shots. It's bruises, in various places, your heart being one of them. It's money that you don't have, but don't regret spending, but still don't have.

It's realizing that nobody really understands that your dreams, although not quite dead, are at breaking stage. It's a limbo between joy and sadness, happiness and pain.

It's recognizing that the treatments you are now doing, are the end of the line for pregnancy. And here you are 7 years older than when you first started this, when you thought you would be done, but really you are just beginning. It's telling Lucy she is going to have a little brother named Jack. It's hoping Lucy will have a little brother named Jack.

It's knowing that you can put everything you have left, into this last ditch effort, all your money, all your emotions, all your walls, and recognize that you can give it everything, but that doesn't guarantee anything. Only 40%.

It's putting your faith in God. Completely. You have no other choice. You have been completely humbled. But you recognize your way isn't God's way. And Faith is a hard road sometimes.

Be gentle. Infertility is a lonely valley, traveled by two people, clinging to each other with all their might.