We sat down in the coffee shop and our waiter nonchalantly asked us, “Anything big going on this week?” Jason and I both choked on our words and turned immediately to each other, a bit wide-eyed, pleading for a little help navigating this. In a barely perceptible motion I shook my head “no” and Jason managed to mumble, “No, not really. Some travel.”
The truth is, today was a big, audacious, significant day. We transferred our last embryo. We had just come from the surgery center.
I’ve come full circle navigating this second IVF(in vitro fertilization) run with all of the emotions, all of the feels. I knew we would do it. There was no way we were leaving our last embryos behind. But, after our last loss, I needed a break — to preserve my sanity, re-build my strength and restore my spirit. It was glorious, such a special time. I allowed myself the freedom to concentrate on being me and cultivating the best version of who that is or will be vs. focusing on the constant tug of war that is incubating a baby when your body just wasn’t built for it.
In the spirit of brutal honesty, when D-Day came, I was bitter, irritated and feeling pretty sorry for myself. I’d eradicated the phrase “it’s not fair” from my arsenal many moons ago, but had my feelings manifested themselves physically, I would have looked like a two year old throwing a monumental tantrum: face red, voice hoarse, arms and legs ferociously flailing about with no consolation possible. Logically, I knew I had to come at this a different way, but my reality just wasn’t having any of it. I had steam coming out of my ears with every shot to my belly. With every pill I (literally) swallowed, I felt cheated and incensed.
My therapist doesn’t often give me “homework” anymore, but she did around this time.
T: (Smiling — So, I knew, she knew it was probably going to piss me off a little) I get that you are being very realistic about this round, but I also want you to work on it from, ya know, the other side of things…HOPE.
M: (flat and monotone) Yeah, totally. I’m hopeful.
T: No, like really. I mean really, really.
M: Yep. Hope. I got it.
I couldn’t shake that conversation for days– I knew she was right, but I didn’t know how to mentally juggle cautious and protective AND hope. Finally, it occurred to me I would always, always put the needs and health of my children (fetus, embryo…all the same to us at this point) before my anger, discomfort or frustration. When it came down to it, I was one hundred percent more interested in protecting them than protecting myself. So, with every shot to my belly and every pill I swallowed, I began to imagine what a great little place I was preparing for them to be nurtured and to grow. I certainly didn’t morph into Little Mary Sunshine, but I had my angle and I clung to it.
Hope began to sneak in a bit more with the results of my check–up last week. My numbers were great: Estrogen needed to be 250 plus and mine was over 1500. My lining needed to be at least five millimeters and was at six. I was a regular over achiever and secretly hoped they would say, okay you can stop taking the estrogen pills. They did not. I read the email three times. They still did not.
I started to practice a little more gratitude. Genuine gratitude, not the weaponry I attempted weeks earlier when my internal voice (she’s such a bitch sometimes, I don’t know why I keep her around) barked about how lucky I should feel I was even able to participate in a round of IVF, much less two!
My final shift came around Sunday. It was the day after my thirty-ninth birthday when I realized I was beginning to feel…excited. Yikes! I wasn’t entirely sure how to receive these feelings initially. Should I shove them down so they disappear? Should I allow them for a specified period of time and then put the kibosh on all of it? Should my inner bitch counter every good thought with a negative one, just to put me in my place?
No, actually. No. There would be none of that. Excitement is fun, it is joy, and it is real. Most importantly, it is true. And it should be more than allowed; it should be encouraged, fostered and danced with.
On the morning of our transfer last year, when Jason suggested we meditate for a few minutes, I gave him the you-are-a-lunatic glance; I was much too nervous to sit still even for a minute. Today, when he suggested the same thing, I said, “sure, great idea.” I wasn’t able to quiet my mind, per se, but as I sat down, I felt an overwhelming wave of gratitude.
I thanked my body for all it had put up with over the years, even enduring one more procedure with complete grace after being promised there would be no more; for creating the perfect place for our babies to nestle into; for the extra poof around my waist (from the estrogen…and Mexican food, but mostly estrogen) that would enable me to nurture a child.
I was thankful for my husband, who has walked this road right with me and supported me in ways he never imagined would be necessary seven years ago when we promised to do this life together. And for my life in general – it is a fabulous one—warts and all.
I told myself and my body we’ve done all we needed to do; now we are going to revel in every single minute we get to hold and carry those babies whether it is for a day or eight weeks or ten months. Now, no matter what they will be with us always and that is crazy awesome.
I was so relaxed (and tired) I fell asleep in the prep room. My doctor came in and told us (among several other things) one of the embryos had died; we only had one remaining, but it looked great. After he left Jason asked how I felt about losing one. I responded, “I’m not going to invest in that. We have one and it’s good and today is a go. That is super exciting.”
If the pain is to come, having chosen joy won’t lessen it, it also won’t exacerbate it – these are not mutually exclusive things. They co-exist right alongside one another. Choosing joy does give you perspective. It enhances the focus on gratitude, and allows you to observe, even cherish the micro-fabulous-moments that exist all around you – so much so, they are even carried within the macro-dreadful-moments.
I choose Joy.