This is an angry blog post.

I got up just past three o’clock this morning to take a pregnancy test. I had tested earlier in the week, freaked myself out over a negative test, and finally rationalized that it was WAY too early to test. So I waited. I’ve done this enough to know that being surprised by “the call” sucks, so I promised Mike I’d wait until the day before the blood test to pee on yet another stick.

So here it is, 3am, and I just can’t take it anymore. The past 10 days have been a total fucking roller coaster filled with a confusing mix of very real pregnancy symptoms and very real doubt. I had originally planned to pee on the stick and leave it in the bathroom for Mike to look at. I just couldn’t bring myself to tell him, yet again, that it was negative. But when the first line started to show up immediately, I knew. I brought it into the bedroom, still dark. Always the optimist, he said, “don’t the instructions say to wait 3 minutes?” I left it in the bathroom and got back in bed while Mike diligently waited the additional two and a half minutes. I called in “you can stop staring at it now.” He came back to bed, silent.

Less than 5 hours before this, before we went to bed, I had this very real “holy shit, I’m pregnant” feel. I wish I could describe it. I think it was my brain deeply compensating for the pangs of doubt and consequently, guilt, all week. After spending tens of thousands, putting my body through SO much, and worst of all, giving my amazing husband, who wants this more than anything, false hope.

I wish I could tell you it doesn’t ever get any easier, but it does. Easier to accept the disappointment. Easier to imagine this will never happen for us.

I’m not sad. I’m angry. Really, really angry. How much more of this can we do? How much more can we handle? Why must my body decide, over and over, that this isn’t it? The embryo couldn’t have been more perfect. It’s me.

I’m angry that we don’t get to have what so many of our friends have. There, I said it. The one thing you’re never supposed to say. We watch them all with their children, many of them having 1, 2, or even 3 kids since we started trying six years ago. And for so many that have expressed gratitude that their child chose them – please tell me what we’re doing wrong. Please help me see what I can be doing different in order to have a child “choose” me. I beg you. Because I’m doing everything I know how to do, and clearly it’s just not enough.

See? I told you this was an angry post. I’m usually so careful to explain, over and over, how happy we are for our friends who do get to do this, and we are. Genuinely. But frankly, I just don’t have the energy to keep it together long enough to convince anyone, so please just take my word for it.

No, this isn’t over, and no, there is nothing you need to say or do. Thank you for reading, even if it was uncomfortable. Knowing you care enough to take the negative as it comes, alongside us, is so helpful. Too many people are going this alone, and it’s important to me that you know what the reality of infertility actually looks like.

This is it. Immense pain. And yes, so much gratitude. But right at this very moment, it’s pure torture.

It Takes a Village: A Gratitude Post

When you think about making a baby, there’s usually a romantic night between two people who love each other. Obviously, that’s not always (or even often) how it works, but it’s certainly what is normalized in our country.

I deeply believe that’s where the shame of infertility comes from. Miseducation.

I’m all about the science – sperm and eggs. Embryos, blastocysts, and morulae (oh my). But what I’m not all about is the underlying commentary that “mommy and daddy fell in love and made you”.

News flash, kiddos, that’s just not always how it works. And here you have men and women who have grown up thinking “this is what my body is MADE to do”, who then feel broken when theirs doesn’t. And what happens to all the kids who weren’t made from a night of unbridled passion? Are they freaks? The ones whose parent(s) were infertile. Or who chose to become a parent without a spouse. Or those who have parents whose biology doesn’t allow sex to equal baby? Or those who have birth parents that couldn’t parent for whatever reason. What are we saying to them? How are we shaping their opinion of themselves with unnecessary commentary on their very conception as a human?

Education of making a baby does NOT require our commentary on how they became a family. (More on this in another post. I’m pretty fired up about it.)

It’s no secret that it takes a village to raise a child. Sometimes, it takes a village to make one, too.

If you’re anything like me, you realize that not only will it take a whole lot of work on the part of you and your partner, but it’ll also take a whole lot of work from a whole lot of people. And let me tell you, THAT, my friends, is romantic.

I’ve spent the last week away from home in Rochester, NY while preparing for my third egg retrieval, and first with CNY Fertility. I know, I know – I swore I’d never do this again. But here I am, and so glad I am. Making a really long story short, I decided that doing what we’ve always done will get us what we’ve always gotten (aka nothing). It was time to explore new doctors and clinics and methods.

Part of what drew me to CNY Fertility was their approach that tied Eastern and Western medicine. Many of you know that I’m a big believer in a healthy combination of both schools of thought. On top of providing top medical care and the willingness to constantly evolve in their approach, they adamantly incorporate acupuncture, yoga, massage, etc. I had finally found a clinic whose beliefs fell in line with mine.

They offer a weekly Fertility Yoga class, taught by the AMAZING Erin McCullough of Fertile Hope Yoga. It was a three hour evening of love for self and others, connection with other women in the same boat, and some restorative yoga to help tie heart, mind, and body during a process that so often doesn’t allow the connection. In a deeply heart opening pose, Erin talked about gratitude. For your own body, your willingness to persevere in all this. And I laid there, just feeling really, really grateful. How is it possible that my village has come together so willingly to help me on this journey? I often stop to look at how many people just give a shit, and I’m completely blown away. I’m so much more grateful than you know.

This post is dedicated to you.

Dr. Kiltz and CNY Fertility
What do I even say about Dr. Kiltz? I literally haven’t even met the man in person, but he’s already so much more accessible and deeply ready to help. That might sound silly – I mean, he is a doctor. But it’s just not always like that with fertility. Man, I don’t even know where to start here. After doing two retrievals and three transfers at a different clinic, I was pretty tapped out. No one knew what was going wrong. I felt sick, and broken, and had completely run out of confidence that my body could ever do this. Fast forward a year+ later, and I’m at a clinic that doesn’t require you to fit into a certain mold. Instead of “this isn’t working for you”, it’s “this hasn’t worked for you, so let’s try something else”. We’re trying things that my former clinic wouldn’t even discuss. Instead of caring about the number of my weight, they care about the quality of my body. What a gift to have found him, whether we’re successful or not. With Dr. Kiltz, I finally feel like this body is worth taking a chance on. Like, it actually might surprise me and pull this whole thing off. It’s a feeling I haven’t felt in a long time, and for that, I am grateful.

Mike, aka literally the best husband that has ever existed
Words can’t actually explain how grateful I am for this man. He’s takes all the ups and downs in such stride. Whether I’m on crazy hormones or not, the last six years of this infertility BS has been a roller coaster of tears, doubt, fear, and so much more. He has never, ever blamed this on me, even though my body is the reason we don’t have kids yet. And no matter how discouraged I get, he is always (sometimes annoyingly but remarkably genuinely) optimistic. He works so hard so that I can focus on IVF, which has basically become a full time job these days. I’d say I could never repay him, but he wouldn’t ask anyway. I love you more than anything.

Fertility Nurses
These ladies are the real MVPs of the fertility game. They’re your day to day ride or dies. The Bonnie to your Clyde. The peanut butter to your (sugar free) jelly. Without them, you’re lost. This goes for both the wonderful CNY nurses, and the most amazing nurse at my former clinic, who I will absolutely bring our future child to meet just because she played such a role in all this for us. There is literally no way I could thank these phenomenal women more.

My family
From parents who check in ALL the time, to family who I know are thinking of us somewhere, we know we are loved and supported. It’s hard when you don’t live near any of your family. We’re all busy, but we all care, and that’s a lot more than many people have. But for those parents (and sister!) of ours, they really do everything they can to show us we’re not alone. It’s hard watching loved ones struggle, and I know they work hard to help us keep it together. To them, I’m grateful.

Jobs/Bosses/Coworkers
Not only have I been able to craft a career and work schedule that I really love, but I’ve managed to get in with the very best people, too. I’ve been totally blown away at the support from bosses and coworkers who’ve been hearing “I have no idea what’s happening but it’s happening soon” for two months. For coworkers who are willing to maybe cover depending on whatever the fuck my body decides to do that day. For badass bossladies who know how deeply I appreciate them on a daily basis, and are willing to roll with me on this, knowing how important it is to me. For letting me meltdown every once in a while without holding it against me. And to my parents and littles that light up my days, you are my heart. Thank you.

Friends
My poor, poor friends. Honestly, sometimes I’m shocked I even still have friends. Anyone who goes through infertility knows how all-consuming it really is. I’m sorry that I’ve talked about nothing other than ovaries and periods and babies and being sad for six years. Thank you for being patient with me when you know how much I want to come snuggle your new babies, but understand when I keep an arms distance because you know that sometimes, it just hurts that much. And even though I don’t want that to stand in the way, it just does on occasion. Thank you for not holding it against me when that four year old birthday party is just too much. Thank you for checking in, sending flowers, running to work in the middle of the night to get supplies we didn’t realize we needed, or just being willing to take me however I come that day. Thank you for not judging me in how much this clouds my life, and continuing to see the other parts of me, even when I don’t.

Self
I often joke that I’m learning alongside my toddlers in class, when it comes to self love and anxiety control, but the truth is, I really am. If we’re being honest, I’m kind of forcing myself to appreciate small, individual things about my body and self in a bit of a fake it till you make it operation. So today, I’m grateful that my body has decided to work with us this round. That things are seemingly looking the best they’ve ever been. Albeit, it could all change, but for today, I am grateful (and grateful doesn’t mean you can’t be realistic).

I’ve been trying to think of a majestic and intelligent way to end this post, but the truth is that I’ll probably be crying over kitten videos momentarily, and it’s taking all my energy and then some just to keep it together. Thanks for understanding.

And thank you for laughing with me. Love you all.

For better or worse: kind of an update

For whatever it’s worth, this is the third time I’ve started this blog in the last 6 months. Every time has really had its best intentions, with the promise of a big update that many have skirted around asking for. And please don’t get me wrong, I’m so, so appreciative that so many care. But frankly, I haven’t known what to say.

So I’ll say this. Please don’t read this with hopes for a big, awesome plan. We don’t have one.

The last 6 months have really had their ups and downs. I’ve finally found a career I really love, Mike is doing great.  So many things to be so grateful for. And we are, more than you know.

So here’s the last 6 months of baby making, in a nutshell. The third transfer and subsequent failure changed me. I’m just being honest here. I mean, no one expects the first transfer to work, and the second, well, it stings, but you’re not burnt yet. But man, something happened after that third transfer.  We really, really thought that one was it, too. I was sick in a way I had never been, all the numbers looked great. This was finally it. Until it wasn’t.

We were willing to move forward with the 4th. We went for a consult with our doctor, and she spewed all kinds of tests we could do and experiments we could try, with all statements seeming to end with a proverbial question mark. All costing thousands of dollars with no actual promise of any definitive answers. Months and months of meds and endometrial biopsies with no end in sight. And frankly it was all a shot in the dark. But what really got me was this: “we have no idea why it didn’t work. Everything looked perfect. This should have worked.”

Everyone has asked me throughout this whole process how I could work around pregnant women all day, and I very truthfully responded with “their baby isn’t about me. Their path isn’t my path.” And I meant it. And everyone seemed to wait for the final straw that would break the camels back. And break it, it did.

I started turning into what everyone expected me to have been from the start. Bitter, sad, jaded. Jealous and angry. And with no help from the shitloads of artificial hormones still coursing through my body, I’ll be the first to admit I went to a pretty dark place. I lost all sense of hope. Literally, every bit.

Mike and I did a lot of soul searching, and decided that maybe we needed to be done with IVF. We had always welcomed the idea of adoption. And  it’s a much larger conversation which I’m happy to get into personally, but we just decided to do IVF first. But adoption was never a consolation prize. Just a different path.

So here we were, super excited about the change in direction, ready to put full steam behind adopting! Here’s what we found out: there are almost zero local agencies that will work with us because we’re not Christian. OK, so we find a large national agency we like. Yay! We meet with a family services organization to start our homestudy. Oh, what’s that? All the debt we went into for IVF will likely get us denied to adopt? Awesome.

Enter total pit of despair.

Alright, maybe I’m being dramatic, but I’m not far off.

So here’s where we stand. We have no idea what we’re going to do, and that’s basically it. There’s a part of me that wants to go on and on all about how I feel defective and guilty, how my body has let us down too many times. About how when you look for help to change that feeling, every article you read about loving and accepting your body seems to boil down to “I look at my beautiful children and realize my body did that“, which only alienates me even more and fosters the hate even deeper. How this whole month of December has been excruciating because had that third transfer worked, this is when we would have met our baby. I wish I could explain the pain I’ve felt when I told Mike (on more than one occasion) that I would totally get it if he left me and found someone else that was just easier, and the pain in his face because he knows I mean it.

But frankly, if you haven’t been there, you won’t understand. I swear, that’s not meant to be condescending. It’s just true.

I want to end this on a positive note, but there kind of isn’t one. I mean, who knows how all this will turn out? But I do know this – for now, I’m lucky enough to get lots of love from littles who I get to hang out with all the time. And I could not have asked for a better partner. I mean, seriously, this shit tears couples apart, and understandably so.

They weren’t kidding about the whole for better or worse thing.

 

FAQ’s and other notable commentary:

“But what about foster care?”
Every state is different, and TN always has the main goal of reuniting families. Always. Babies do not go into foster care for adoption right off the bat. And bringing a child, baby or otherwise, into our family and then having them taken from us is too much right now. I’ll always be supportive of families being able to work it out, and I’d love to be part of that in the future, but right now, that’s not the right path for us.

“BUT THERE ARE SO MANY BABIES WHO NEED HOMES! SAVE THE BABIES!”
In private adoption, there are approximately 36 waiting hopeful families for every baby born with an adoption plan.

“So are you in a constant state of misery?”
Not constant, per se. I speak for both of us when I say we find a lot of joy being around our friends and their families! Or my little ones in class, whom I LOVE and truly look forward to seeing weekly. But yes, it’s hard. Sometimes, I’ll recuse myself from the environment so I’m not that person bawling in a random place. And that’s ok. It’s always appreciated when you allow me these moments.

“Have hope! My brother/neighbor/cousin/friend did…”
Here’s the thing about hope. Hope is the easiest thing for people to try to pump into you when there’s nothing else to say – which, for the record, I completely get! I’m guilty of it myself, probably many times over. But alongside hope, is reality, and reality is truth, no matter how much hope you’ve got. Infertility is really, really complex. It’s incredibly unlikely that what happened to your loved one won’t happen for us. It’s not a doom thing, it’s that every case is extremely different.

“But did you try…”
Yes.

 

Don’t call it courage.

 

I’ve written and erased this blog multiple times. Bottom line, third transfer didn’t work, and no, it doesn’t get easier.

We’re going to keep going. One more embryo to transfer, then probably on to adoption. And we’re going to keep going until we have our baby, no matter how (s)he comes to us.

You can call it determination. Persistence. Maybe even nerve.

But please don’t call it courage.

Because this is what a mother does. Fights for her children, even when she hasn’t met them yet.

Round 2. Fight!

It’s been a bit too long since we posted here. In the meantime an awful lot has happened, and most of it we’ve been sharing via cryptic posts on Facebook.

And over the last several weeks, we’ve been sharing our story in person with a great many people, but now it’s time to catch everyone up. So here we go.

Part 1: In which we decide to do IVF again

This happened a while back. We’re still fighting the good fight, but with some key differences as you’ll see below.

We started round 2 in February, and we’re well into it now. It’s been a roller coaster, as you’ll see, and for the sake of clarity I’m going to try to explain each step.

And Doris gets her oats.

Part 2: In which we retrieve 13 eggs

Holy shit! 13 eggs! That’s waaaayyy more than we were expecting. Last time around we only retrieved 6 eggs. Of course we pretty much maxed out Courtney on medication, stimulating her ovaries as much as possible. Much crying was had that day in the fertility clinic, and it was the good kind.

Part 3: In which 4 eggs are fertilized

And this is where the roller coaster begins. Is mild devastation a thing? Because that’s how I felt when I heard this news. I mean, it’s still 4 fertilized eggs, but that number is not what we expected.

For comparison: in our last round, all 6 eggs fertilized. One fertilized abnormally (i.e. more than one sperm got in), leaving 5 fertilized eggs to work with. To have only 4 fertilized in this round seems like a big step backwards.

But then we remembered: the first go-round was not normal. This round was normal. It’s not unusual to have fertilization rates like this, and the past was an anomaly.

Here’s where things got a little different from the last time too. This round, we’re doing genetic testing (more on that in a second), and when you do genetic testing, it’s required to do a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI. This is just a fancy way of saying that they pull out one teensy weensy sperm and use a very fine needle to inject it directly into the egg.

The last time around, we didn’t do ICSI, as it’s quite expensive, and not really necessary for a typical IVF cycle. ICSI is required for genetic analysis, as it helps prevent contamination of the genetic material by extra sperm in and around the egg. In a normal fertilization procedure, they pretty much just drop a blob of semen on the egg and see what happens.

Strangely, ICSI tends to have higher fertilization rates than non-ICSI procedures, but again… we were not the norm the first time around.

Part 4: In which we biopsy 2 blastocysts for genetic analysis

Two of our embryos grew for 5 days. This is the cutoff at which it’s clear these are growing well, and stand a good chance of implantation on transfer back to the uterus. At this point, they biopsy a small number of cells from each embryo, and send them off for analysis. Both embryos are frozen until we know whether they are viable.

Again, a sort of mild devastation. We started with 13. Now we’re down to 2.

So why do all this genetic testing? Well, the last round of IVF, we really didn’t have any clear understanding of why it didn’t work. Often the answer is that the embryos are simply not genetically compatible with life. In natural conception, these embryos simply don’t implant. This happens in an IVF scenario too, but when you’re spending thousands of dollars per transfer, the last thing you want to do is use embryos that never stood a chance to begin with.

Going into the next step, we know it’s typical for half of the embryos sent for genetic testing are found to be viable. That would put us with exactly one shot at success.

But…

Part 5: In which both embryos are genetically viable

And there’s one boy and one girl 🙂

To say this is a relief is a bit of an understatement. Right now we’re at the top of the roller coaster’s final hill, waiting to see what happens around the last turn.

We’re going to transfer one embryo at a time, and we’re not going to ask them which one (gotta have some good surprises, right?).

I’ll let you guess what my next Facebook post is gonna be.

Resolutions and whatnot.

Before this whole journey started, I used to make a lot of wishes. I’m not sure if that’s called superstition, or perhaps just an excess of hope, but there was never a chance to make a wish passed by. 11:11 was my favorite, I think, but then there was also birthdays, a rogue eyelash, or a wishbone. Frankly, I can’t remember what I used to wish before, before every one became a baby. But those wishes came and went, along with almost all my energy for positive thinking a la The Secret, meditations to will my fertility into existence, and overall positivity for any of this to change.

Going into this next cycle, I’ll admit I’m less than excited. After two losses, my sheer excitement is no longer enough to make the shots, finances, and possible bad news seem worth it. And to be honest, my butt still hurts from the last rounds. The thought of there being a baby at the end of this seems really hard to find. I mean, logically, I know. But my heart still isn’t so sure.

OK, so everybody together on my count of 3. Ready? 1… 2… 3…

BUT WHY DON’T YOU JUST ADOPT?

I get that a lot. One day I’m going to write a lengthy post on adoption, but for right now, I’m going to boil it down to this:

  • Before you get your pitchforks out, we are TOTALLY OPEN to adoption. Seriously. We met with adoption agencies before we started any of this, and continue to do so when something comes up that might be a fit for us. We will continue to pursue avenues that work for our family. And just like you’ve had to make decisions in your life that fit for your family, we have too.
  • I have no idea where the term “just adopt” came from, but there’s no such thing as just adopting. Adoption is an incredibly hard process for both the birth mother and the adoptive parents, with a LOT of cost, and a lot of heartbreak for all parties involved. They’re not just handing out babies in need like a lot of people seem to think. And it’s all totally worth it. I’m just saying that there’s no easy road in this journey.

So, heart’s not so sure about all this, yet we continue to remain on the same course. Stop complaining. And I will. But here’s where the resolutions come in.

  1. Get out of my comfort zone.
    As horrible as infertility feels, it’s the only thing I know. If we’re being really honest here, I think there’s a part of me that’s equally terrified of seeing a positive as I am of seeing a negative. As badly as I want it, it’s new territory, and the uncertainty of this whole shebang is scary. A positive brings on so many other fears (that many without infertility also feel in early pregnancy) – will my body actually be able to do this? What if I miscarry? And so on.
    And this will apply to my whole life. I’ve already chopped off my hair and bought glasses that are not within my comfort zone. And you know what? I’m already happier for it.I tend to live by the mantra “do what you’ve always done, get what you’ve always gotten”. I’m over it. On to a new path.
  2. Renew my faith in being open to the possibility.
    I think I’ve kind of let this one slide, and I need to get it back. It was advice I got early into this process, and it gave me a lot of hope back then. And in a time that I’ve seemed to have lost all sense of hope, I need to make this one a priority. It is totally possible we’ll be parents at the end of this.
  3. Stop allowing infertility to change my plans, and plan for the life I have right now.
    Since we first started trying, everything was “ok, if I get pregnant this month, we’ll be x months along by (whenever). So I had better wait to…”. Yeah, no more of that. That ship has sailed. Because the fact is, right now, I’m not pregnant. I can do everything a pregnant lady can’t right now. Roller coasters, booze, soft cheese. You name it, I can do it. Except the litter box. I mean, we wouldn’t want our future baby to be affected by toxoplasmosis, right? Thanks honey.
    But seriously, I haven’t done so much because we might get pregnant. And here I am, four years later, and not pregnant. I’m going to plan for my life right now. And if I get pregnant, we’ll change the plan. But no more waiting for the unicorn.
  4. Stay better connected with friends and family. Stop being a hermit.
    I’ve found this process really brought out my inner introvert. I think I’ve always teetered the line between extrovert and introvert, but this has thrown me over the edge. I never know how I’m going to feel, or act, for that matter. Plus, there’s shots on very specific timelines, and not all of them I can do myself. And I always felt weird about doing them out of the house. But such is life. I need to get out and keep connections with my friends and family. Because I need you. We need you. And I hope that if I cry over something stupid in your presence, or act like a hormonal lunatic, you’ll understand.
  5. Stop treating unsuccessful cycles as failures, and instead treat them as losses.
    Failure implies that something was done wrong, and with that comes guilt, shame, and self hate. I didn’t do anything wrong, and I need to be ok with that, as much as I’d like to place blame. An unsuccessful cycle is very much so a loss, and the blame isn’t helpful.

So there we go. If you’ve read this far, you deserve a medal.

And with that, a giant thank you. Thank you for your heart, your thoughts, your help, your love. Thank you to everyone who has continued to support us on this journey. You have no idea how much you mean to both of us. You genuinely make a difference. I am so unbelievably grateful for your presence in my life.

I’ve debated whether or not to continue sharing so much. But here I am. And I hope it makes a difference to someone. Because this isn’t just a story about infertility. It’s about a life that you just didn’t imagine having. Just know you’re not alone, and I’m here for you too.

Happy New Year. May whatever you’re wishing for come true.

The tale of the body that could(n’t).

I figured it was probably time to share the news.

This last embryo, it wasn’t our baby either.

So two rounds in, two rounds failed. I had done the unspeakable and tested in advance, so I sobbed it out all weekend. But the final line was drawn Monday with the blood test. The blood test that would, yet again, tell us we’re not going to be parents. Again. Not this time.

About a week ago, I had the opportunity to screen Embrace, a great documentary that explored body image and self love/hate. I came home enlightened, enraged, enamored. I wrote this long post about my deeply rooted body issues and conception, and in the end, couldn’t bring myself to post it. After years of very openly discussing my reproductive system, somehow, this post about my relationship with my body felt too personal.

It boiled down to this: no matter how much I’m told my body is amazing or capable or meant to do this, here I am, despite desperately trying to accept the body I’m in for what it is, with a blaring neon sign staring me in the face saying

you’re still defective.

I did everything. Eat this, don’t eat that, weigh this, stop taking this, start taking that, exercise more but that’s too much, relax, be positive, LOVE YOUR BODY FOR THE HEAVENLY VESSEL IT IS AND ALL WILL BE SOLVED!

Every shot, every ultrasound, every appointment, every procedure is a stark reminder of the things my body is supposed to do on its own. I wanted nothing more than that 1BB grade embryo that a doctor inserted to stay in my belly. I hoped it would settle into the uterine lining that injections of estradiol created. I wished that it would thrive on the shots of progesterone and estradiol that my body got nightly. Nothing. And I can’t help but feel that every time someone tries to offer advice, there’s an underlying twinge of “what is wrong with you?”

I have this idea in my head that when my body actually carries out a pregnancy, that’s when I’ll learn to love it. But that -when- may not happen, and the alternative action cannot be hating my body for the rest of my life. 

I still don’t regret our decision to be open about our journey, even if it’s a little depressing sometimes. This needs to be discussed. People going through this need to connect, and the relationships I’ve had the good fortune to cultivate through this process have been priceless, and will hopefully last a lifetime. I write all this because infertility desperately needs transparency, and this is what it looks like.

So what’s next? What’s next is a break. My body needs to heal. Both our hearts need to heal. We are tired, brokenhearted, and broke. But this too shall pass, and on we’ll go, probably at the beginning of next year.

In the mean time, send gluten.

If you’re pregnant, and we’re not…

Don’t walk on eggshells around us. We are genuinely excited for you. Please give us the opportunity to celebrate your wonderful news with you.

Our time will come, one day. And then you’ll be excited for us, too. There is -never- too much love.

Love (and we mean that),
Courtney + Mike

From Her Point of View

 

Failure.

After weeks of shots in the belly, shots in the ass, estrogen patches, supplements, not lifting more than 10lbs, avoiding caffeine, sugar, raw almost anything, soft cheese, and Advil, surgical procedures, bed rest, and essentially avoiding anything that makes anyone any fun.

Failure. 

I’m not saying I failed. I’m not saying I didn’t. But in the end, that’s exactly what happened. We may never know the reason. It could be that the embryo wasn’t genetically viable and the body has an incredible way of avoiding that kind of heartbreak. It could be something the clinic did. It could be something I did. It could just be bad luck.

I’m not going to say “it happened for a reason”, because fuck that. Nor am I going to say “it’ll happen when it’s time”, because fuck that, too. If the universe has a timeline and it’s not right now, I would have appreciated a heads up before we took out a $20,000 loan.

I want to make people feel better. If you’re hurting, I’m hurting, and I just need to fix things. But this has taught me that some things just need to be felt, not fixed.

So here I am Friday afternoon, pumped full of pregnancy hormones (which is really the cruel joke in all of this), getting a call that starts with “do you have a minute to talk?” And I sat at work and cried before I had to bring lunch into a room full of incredible women, all with their new babies. And I’ll admit I kind of bolted out of the room, grabbed my things, and left. And I continued that cry in the car. Like, a legit ugly cry. And I’ve had some tears since, but that horrid ugly cry is what I needed. I felt that loss. I felt the grieving. I felt sad.

I am so, so truly appreciative of those in my life who love me. I have felt support in ways I’m not even sure I knew existed. I have a husband whose love is beyond words. I have family and friends who work so hard to let us know we’re in your hearts and minds. I love you all from the bottom of my heart, please know that.

I also need to ask for a little slack if I don’t always want to look on the bright side. Sometimes, I just need the leeway to say “this may never work.” It doesn’t mean it won’t, it just means I’m acknowledging what’s going through my head, and sometimes getting that out is all that’s necessary. Please forgive me when you want me to feel like my body can do anything, and I disagree. And I’m not going to apologize when encouraging words including hope, strength, and bravery are met with rebuttals of reality. My reality is this may or may not work, and acceptance of that does not mean I’ve given up.

So on to the next. We have one frozen embryo, so we’re going to try again. And if that doesn’t work, who knows? Maybe we’ll do it again. Maybe we’ll move to adoption. But as Mike has said, over and over: whether or not this works isn’t the end goal. No matter how our path looks, we’ve committed to becoming parents, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do. 

(So, you know, if your mom’s friend’s neighbors daughter is preggers and looking to adopt, tell her to call us!)

If at first you don’t succeed

It’s been a long two weeks, which makes the bad news even more hurtful. Yesterday our test came back negative. Cycle one has failed.

A bit of backstory, as I haven’t updated here in a minute:

  • 6 eggs retreived
  • 5 eggs fertilized
  • 2 embryos made it to 5-day transfer
  • 1 embryo transfered, and 1 embryo went to cryo-storage

In other words, we’ve got one more shot at this.

Describing a failed IVF cycle escapes words. Because it feels like a loss, even if it isn’t the same as, say, a miscarriage. Just a couple of cells, not even implanted, so pregnancy hasn’t even happened yet. And yet, I feel as though…. well, it hurts.

We had some great news this week too: I haven’t yet updated over at my other blog, but Mom’s PET scans show no signs of cancer! The bone marrow biopsies are showing some atypical cells, so we can’t say the words “cancer free” just yet, but all signs are pointing toward an excellent recovery.

Still, negativity bias. Whomp, whomp.

That’s not really how I am, or at least not how I try to be. I try to stay positive, I try to be chipper. I try not to bury myself in work, or distract myself. I try to process real emotions, but remain optimistic.

Yet, when push comes to shove, I retreat to these old ways. I work longer hours. I watch too many movies, or listen to music too loudly. I read books. I futz with my phone at dinner. Call these coping mechanisms, I guess, but today they just feel like the only option.

When your first round of IVF fails. I asked for extra listeria. Too soon?

A post shared by Courtney Grinfeld Fabio (@ringleaderc) on

I can only keep reminding myself that the goal is not to be pregnant, the goal is to have children. And we’re a long way from reaching that. We’re getting one step closer to that goal, even with each failure.

Now excuse me while I escape to Westeros for a while.

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