Waiting for bloodwork to confirm what I already know after 3 at-home BFNs. Waiting for my period (5 days late, courtesy of progesterone). Waiting, because for the first time in three years, I have no further plan. Waiting to see how this is going to be ok, because I know it will, but if I try to think of how, my heart fails me.
As you may have seen from my previous update, they were only able to get three eggs from my ovaries, but miraculously, two of those three fertilized.
We got the call yesterday, and the timing in terms of where we were and what we were doing was incredibly sweet, but I kind of want to hold that close for now. Kind of holding all of this close.
They rushed us in for a day 2 transfer this morning, and we saw our embies on a screen just before they were transferred. One is 3 cells and the other is 4 – graded B and C respectively (the scale runs best-worst from A-D).
They wished us luck, advised me not to test early and to stay off the internet (ha!), and they tried to instill in us what they considered to be an appropriate level of hope – general positivity without too much expectation.
As it turns out, however, I’m already in love with these little cells, all seven of them. I’m aware of the odds and all of that, but there is simply no mitigating how badly I want them to grow and thrive. I’m blown away that each little embryo has the all the DNA of a unique person – a person made from me and my husband. So I’m going to celebrate them as long as they’re around – whether it’s days, months, or for the rest of my life. And I’m going to make myself a paper chain.
My sisters, I have a few things to confess to you on this rainy afternoon, the second day of what is approximately my 30th two week wait:
1. I don’t feel like this is going to work. I try not to admit that to myself, in case the negative thoughts chase the sperm away, or in case I discredit God with my lack of faith, but this is confession, so I’m telling you.
2. I don’t know if I’m as strong as you are. Some of you have been doing this for ten years. Some of you have lost many babies. Some of you have done multiple rounds of IVF. I don’t know how you keep going. I truly don’t. I feel like I’m reaching my end here.
3. I’m afraid of IVF. The doctor has told us this should probably be our last round of IUI. I was really hoping not to go on to IVF. I’m afraid of the retrieval process. I’m afraid of having unused embryos. I’m afraid of the investment – financial, emotional, and physical. I’m afraid of taking more drugs. I’m afraid of getting cancer or having a heart attack because of all the drugs I’ve already been taking.
4. I’ve come to identify with being infertile. There’s a sick part of me that feels resistant to let it go. Not because I like it – I hate every bit of it. It’s more about other people than me – I feel like if I were to get pregnant now, the agony I’ve been living will be summed up as, “Oh yeah, it took her a couple years to get pregnant.” Somehow I want my pain to be important enough. I feel like I want something to show for this which will elicit what I feel to be an appropriate response for how much it continues to end me…which is unfortunate, because the very definition of this is having nothing to show for it. Getting your pain legitimized in the court of public opinion is, I imagine, a poor substitute for happiness. But this is confession, and this is one of the slimy things squirreling around in my brain.
5. I want to complain. These things aren’t a really big deal, but this is confession, and I want to complain that it took the nurse multiple attempts to get the catheter into my cervix, and I was still hurting a day later. I want to complain that my tummy is still bruised and sore from all my injections. I want to complain that the progesterone suppositories make me feel like I hate everybody and everything. And that they make me feel pregnant. I want to complain that I have to take a million pills and avoid all kinds of food and drink and duck and weave in conversations all the time to avoid topics that will make me cry. I want to complain that so much of my hair has fallen out from my thyroid medication that I now self-consciously side-part and fluff it every day. I want to complain that I’m almost as afraid of being pregnant as I am of not being pregnant.
Enough. I know you will understand, and I thank you for it.
Over dinner last night with a couple of friends who happen to have theology degrees, I learned a little bit about the Desert Fathers. Ascetics who eschewed the mainstreaming of Christianity by Constantine, these forebears of the monastic movement removed themselves to the desert to rediscover what their faith truly meant. I think they were probably a little cray-cray if we’re being honest. But I looked them up this morning because I was intrigued. Their torment was largely self-inflicted, but they discovered how to live in torment as a result. And I’m taking a couple of notes.
“Sit in thy cell, and thy cell will teach thee all.” As I have nowhere to be but my cell in the moment, I am willing myself to be taught by it. As I am feeling more spent, vulnerable and powerless than I can remember feeling, I am making a conscious effort to ask for help. As the people who I consider to be my support have demonstrated themselves to be clumsy and inept at helping me in this particular area of my life, I am learning to hold part of myself back as I reach for help. As this process has alienated me from some of my closest friends, I am making an effort to be more honest. As I know this may further hurt these relationships, I am standing by myself and not retreating to the safe territory of trying to make other people happy. My cell has taught me this. That sometimes I must need. And some things I must hold back.
One father’s mantra was, “Today, today, today.” He repeated it to himself over and over so as not to focus on terrors to come, but to only deal with what he was facing today. I think I’m going to tattoo that backwards on my face.