Sometimes, about once a year, I go back and read this letter. It’s a letter I wrote to family and friends who has been walking with us on our IVF journey to give them an update on how our third IVF cycle had gone. (spoiler alert- not good). I like to read it because it reminds me to be grateful. Grateful of our journey, of where we are, and of the outpouring love that we have received from the people in our lives.
It’s hard to read. It always brings tears to my eyes. But it reminds me to be grateful. So here it is. Side note: writing this letter is also what inspired me to start a blog. When that IVF cycle failed, I couldn’t stand the idea of calling/texting/emailing every single person who knew about it and repeating the news over and over again.
So here it is —
Dear Family and Friends,
This is for all of you who have been my support group for the past several months/years. Many of you unknowingly volunteered for this position by giving me unconditional love, prayers, and support. Most of you fell into the position (whether you wanted to or not) by just being around me every day and not being able to escape it; and some of you had no choice because you’re a relative. (sorry!) Regardless of the reason, I want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being there for Ryan and me. I wish I had the time (or really the emotional will-power) to write each and every one of you a personal, handwritten note – but I just can’t put myself through that (I am certain you all understand!) You have all, in your own ways, been a true blessing to me. I cannot begin to tell you how much it means to me to have your prayers, your words of encouragement, your shoulders to cry on, your ears to listen to my screaming frustration, and your gentle hearts and faith to help me carry on.
This is a letter I started writing for myself, just to get all of my ideas out of my jumbled mind. But as I was writing it, I felt that I needed to share it with all of you. After all, you have been through this entire journey with me, and I felt as if you deserve to know what I’m thinking – I don’t always express myself too well with spoken words, and sometimes I think I come across as more of a doer than a feeler (if that makes any sense.) Basically, I just wanted you to know, because you deserve to know, how I am feeling.
This has been the most difficult 2 ½ years of my life. Ryan and I have been through the heartbreak of trying our hardest to have a baby “the old fashioned way,” only to be disappointed each month for a year and a half. I have charted basil body temperatures, been told by doctors to just be patient -“sometimes it takes people longer”, “your temperature charts are textbook perfect” they said. Then, after referring myself to a Reproductive Endocrinologist 10 months ago, it has been a whirlwind of even more emotions. We have found out I can’t have children naturally due to blocked tubes, I’ve been through 2 IVF cycles that got canceled due to poor response to the medications (after doing all of the injections, I might add) and then, after more hormones and blood tests, found out I also have the egg supply of a 40 year old. Through all of this I have watched all of my married friends get pregnant without really trying – “just to add salt to the wound” as they say. (please don’t take offense to that for those of you who are so very blessed with babies!)
The past month has been the most difficult – Ryan and I have been to 2 funerals of close family members, I have stuck myself with a needle twice a day, swallowed a countless supply of hormones in pill form, been through a painful medical procedure, to then start having shots given to me by Ryan or Mom with a 2 inch long needle every day (talk about the feeling of helplessness)- with thick enough medicine to give me welts and bruises on my back. I have gained close to 10 pounds due to the countless number of hormones that I’ve been subjecting my body to, my face looks like a 16 year old’s, and my ovaries still feel like they have golf balls inside them. My entire body aches, the bruise on my left arm from all of the blood work makes me look like a heroine addict, and my eyes are constantly blood shot from all of the crying. I have gone to talk to a nun who supposedly performs miracles, especially dealing with infertility (one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, by the way) and have spent countless hours on the Internet on message boards of people who have done IVF, Googling my diagnosis (yeah I know – terrible idea) and researching clinics across the country who may be able to better help me. I have gotten my hopes up one day: planning a nursery, figuring out important pregnancy dates (even the week that I would get the glucose test done – I know I’m weird), to then bawling my eyes out because I didn’t have any “symptoms.” And don’t even get me started on the money we’ve spent on all of this – the medical bills that I will be paying off of my credit card for the rest of my life (or so it seems!) and the miles that I have put on my poor car driving back and forth to our RE’s office which is 2 1/2 hours away. I spent the majority of my Thanksgiving break on bed rest, spending countless hours looking at the picture of our little 4 cell embryo, and praying for a miracle. Regardless of the praying, regardless of what “Papa” told the nun, regardless of doing everything right, I found out today that I won’t be having a baby in 9 months – my arms will be empty.
Still, after all of this, I’m ready to start again. Whether it’s with my own eggs, through donor eggs, or through adoption – I will be a mother and Ryan will be a dad. We don’t know why God has challenged us with this, and we are both pretty angry with Him right now. However, we also know that He is all we have left. He is the only being that we can truly depend on right now. I’m not sure I have ever needed God more. As angry and confused as I am about why He has chosen me for this challenge, and as much as I feel like He owes us a miracle, I know that it is ultimately up to Him. No matter how much I beg and scream and throw my fist, He will answer my prayers when He is ready. Finding the patience is the most difficult, especially when I know that every month we don’t do IVF, is every month that I’m losing eggs from my diminishing supply – they’re just going to waste.
But I can say – when it does finally happen for us, I won’t ever take it for granted. I will cherish every moment of my pregnancy (oh how I pray for morning sickness and back pain), every moment of delivery (although I will be getting an epidural, I don’t want to remember it that badly!), and every sleepless night with my newborn. I will sing to the heavens when my baby starts teething, crawling, and walking. I will delight in my two year old’s tantrums, potty training, and moodiness. I will be grateful for every lost tooth (and I HATE dealing with teeth!), and every skinned knee (oh yeah, and I don’t do blood very well either!) I will praise God for a 16 year old that hates me, and I will thank Him for the countless debt from his/her college tuition. I will watch my children get married and bless me with grandchildren and I will tell them all how much I love them and am blessed by them every single day. I will cherish the bad moments along with the good. I know there will be moments when I will be tired and feel like complaining, but I won’t for a second miss the days when I wasn’t a mother.
I’m not really sure what our next steps are. We know we will keep trying. We know we will never give up. We will spend every last penny we have, and we will travel whatever distance it takes. Because I know, from the deepest place in my soul, that I am meant to be a mother.
I love you all so very much. Please continue to keep us in your prayers. And please know that I thank God for all of you every night. I have never felt so loved – and that is the blessing that I can take from all of this. It has made me closer to my husband, I have discovered who my true friends are, and I have never appreciated my family more. I will forever be grateful for that.