The Second Cycle
I started to write about our second IVF cycle, and I will, but I wasn't ready at this point. The second round was full of ups and downs. We were supported every step of the way by our family, friends, and doctor, but it was still hard. It just wasn't as smooth as the first one, and we're not sure why. But as my physician reminds me, my body is not a machine. While we can predict how it will react, it won't always go that way.
So while it didn't go the way we hoped it would, it doesn't mean if won't give us a beautiful child. We don't know yet. We're anxiously waiting.
Where I'm At
I'm in the anxiety of the TWW. I remember the TWW before infertility and loss - it was exciting and not all consuming. It didn't drive hope and anxiety and fear all at the same time. But now, sometimes I don't know whether I hope more that it works or I fear more it works and fails. And after a failed embryo transfer, in some ways I'm afraid to hope. I'm afraid to be let down. I'm afraid to believe my body is capable and strong. I have a hard time believing we can be a couple that brings a child into this world together.
The Embryo Transfer
The first time around when we walked into our embryo transfer, we heard what a beautiful embryo it was. Jared was with me and there was overall excitement in the atmosphere. The second time around, I had to go by myself without Jared. And they seemed reluctant to share the grade of the embryo - but I asked anyways. The embryologist told me "but this was at 6:30 AM this morning it probably looks a lot better now!" But I also know the truth, the grading is only a small part of it.
Our beautiful top grade embryo didn't make it. So I try and remind myself, that even though this one wasn't that top grade, it doesn't mean it doesn't have the power of life in it. The whole experience did not help with the anxiety I already had brewing. It wasn't the fault of the staff, they were wonderful. This cycle was just different. Really different.
In some ways I think, wouldn't that fit Jared's and my story if this was the little embryo that could. We both had to fight our way to be where we're at. We weren't the most popular or gifted. In fact, I was told I was too dumb to be a nurse by my college counselor. I went on to graduate from an accelerate program with honors and ma now a successful nurse leader. Jared is currently kicking butt in grad school after struggling in school his whole life.
TWW After Loss
Looking at a calendar both personally and professionally I look about the time I've lost both pregnancies and am careful to not plan too much, for fear of what could be going on. My physician e-mailed me this weekend to check-in. He said he looks forward to hopefully calling me with good news. My response? I look forward to hopefully being able to focus on the next part, staying pregnant. And that is the honest truth. I can only focus on one thing at a time right now.
While it's not easy- this whole journey of infertility and loss, I know it will be worth it. Do I know if we'll end up with a biological baby of ours in our arms? No. But I know that we will have done everything we can to get there.
Friday both Jared and I went to see my acupuncturist after the transfer. He told her he's been waking up around 3 AM. She explained in Chinese medicine around that time it is normally something related to grief. In that moment when he was telling me that, I was reminded that I'm not the only one grieving right now, he is too. Sometimes it is hard for the partner not physically going through everything to be seen as much in the process. This is something I need to continually remind myself about. This is just as hard for him as it is for me.
Working on a Mindset Change
This weekend I listened to some podcasts. A couple of the podcasts were on the psychology of fertility. Changing our mindset to help make our body less stressed and more receptive to reproduction. It talked about not being afraid to hope. Because even if it doesn't happen, you're going to be let down either way. However, the hope creates a better more receptive environment in your body. Moment by moment, I'm working on having a little bit of hope at a time.
I've also been doing yoga particularly geared towards IVF and this part of the cycle. Focusing on loving my body, even when at times it is almost not recognizable anymore. Trusting not only that it can get pregnant, but that it can also stay pregnant. Taking those moments to deep breathe and be still. Calm the nervous/anxious energy and let my body do the work.
While talking with a friend this weekend who has been through two retrieval cycles herself, she looked at me and said "I hope you are proud of yourself for all you have been through and done." I guess I didn't think about it until just that moment. It was what I had to do to take a step closer to Jared's and my dream of a family. But in that moment, it helped me to be less angry with my body for not succeeding thus far and instead love it and honor it for everything it has done and been through in the last year.
A year ago almost to the date I was walking into the pap smear appointment I had been dreading and avoiding. A year later, I've had a lot more than a pap smear done. I've overcome a lot - my body has overcome a lot.
I'm not sure what the end of the TWW will bring to be honest. I'm trying my best not to read into every symptom. I'm trying to focus on being in the moment, loving and nourishing my body and being proud of it, whatever the outcome. Knowing that this isn't the end of our road - even if it is negative or even if does result in another loss. Knowing that I'm strong, and Jared is strong, and our marriage is strong and our faith is strong. Knowing that each day even if it doesn't seem like it, is progress and one step closer to the family we long for. I'm trusting that God is still good, even in the midst of this season.
Quite frankly, the TWW isn't fun. But I'm trying to embrace the moments. Praying and envisioning that little embryo digging into my uterus and making itself comfortable and multiplying cell by cell and growing. But also reminding myself - whatever the outcome we will be ok. It may hurt. But we'll come out on the other side.
Through this process, I've truly learned what a miracle it is that each of us are here. And with that in mind, I will do my best to live every moment, every breath the best possible ways I can. And I've learned through this process, that many of those breaths and moments are best spent in rest and loving of thyself and the body that was fearfully and wonderfully made. All the meanwhile hoping for that rainbow baby.