Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"Let Go Or Be Dragged"

We're home from our last stretched-out Christmas family event, having spent a few beautiful days in southern Vermont with my husband's mom and stepdad. Ironically there wasn't much snow there, where the skiing is king, but we came home to enough snow on the ground that our driveway was plowed.

The thing about drives in the car is that you have this time where you can have conversations and the other person can't escape: there's no walking away, or suddenly developing a burning interest in doing laundry or vacuuming, or deciding now's the perfect time to go for a run. It's really a hostage situation. This can make for some interesting conversations, and is kind of the perfect time to really delve into difficult subjects. Plus, it's hard to make sustained eye contact with the other person (safely, at least), so if something hard has to be said it can make it a little bit easier...even though you are stuck there and can't run away.

I am not succeeding at making this not sound like a fight. Today was not a fight, not at all, but it was some hard-truth-discussing, that's for darn sure.

Over the vacation we kind of felt out how my husband's parents felt about adoption. They thought it was a great idea. Which led to questions about why we can't just move forward with that and put the rest behind us, why we can't drop the infertility treatment piece cold turkey and throw ourselves straight into adoption. Out of love, out of concern for my health, out of concern for time.

I am going to be completely and utterly honest in this post, and it may not be easy to hear/read, but I have been feeling so very conflicted and I need to kind of sort it out and get it out of my head a bit.

In having these discussions, I was a little in awe about how much I've already learned about domestic infant adoption and the process and the players and the pitfalls of explaining what adoption looks like today versus thirty or twenty years ago. I was also a little in awe about how excited we are, how much passion goes into explaining and talking about this as a possible (and probable) future. There is nothing like talking about a pathway with others who have a stake in it to make you realize that you really are on board with taking this step. That as afraid as I've been to start this process while finishing the other process, it is absolutely the right decision for us.

However.

I am finding that I am in a funny place. I don't have a whole lot of hope that we'll end up pregnant. I'd love for that to happen, but honestly what makes me think this could happen for us at this point? This journey has been nothing but cruel to us. We have done 9 cycles, transferred 25 embryos, and only two of those cycles and two of those embryos ever did anything remotely exciting. To sit there and look at the fact that it has been YEARS since my one uterine pregnancy is incredibly discouraging. To feel like perhaps it would be nice to be put in some sort of stasis for transfer (and maybe even the wait) so that I don't feel horribly sad as we put these little bundles of potential life inside my uterus, because really I feel that they are going to their death. That is not a good feeling. I try to be positive, but when the odds seem so utterly stacked against you, how can you not feel like this is a lost cause?  Especially when we've had TWO cancellations in the past year when that's never happened to us before? Especially with our brand-new issues of polyps and uterine scarring? This is where, I feel, people stop understanding me.

THEN WHY KEEP DOING IT? WHY PUT YOURSELF THROUGH THIS AGAIN? WHY NOT JUST MOVE ON?

No one yells this at me, but I kind of hear it that way. People, including my husband, including our respective parents, including our closest friends, are concerned. And I am moving on, I am. I would like some credit for that. Originally we had another fresh cycle in our package. We 100% are NOT doing that. No more fresh cycles. Our frozens are all we have left, and I would like to finish it out. I would like to give them a chance. Even though, I realize, I just said putting them in my uterus makes me feel like it's NO chance.

Here's the thing...no one is telling us this is not going to happen, even when it feels to us that everyone on our team is completely delusional. The scarring is at the tippy top of my uterus, and the belief is that it won't impact a pregnancy. But it sounds awfully scary. And how do they know?

The fears people around us have:
- We won't get pregnant and we'll have wasted time.
- We will get pregnant and we'll experience another miscarriage.
- We will get pregnant and we'll have complications on my end that are life threatening or compromise my health either short term or long term.
- We will get pregnant and there will be complications that result in premature birth and complications that come with that.
- We will get pregnant and we'll have a late stage loss.

I have these fears, too, but I don't necessarily think they're founded. I do not want to end this journey in more tragedy than we've already experienced, but who has said that these things are any more of a possibility than they are for the average 38 year old pregnant woman? And, if we start the application process and gather our documents and paperwork and all that assorted work for adoption while we're finishing this out, then have we really wasted any time?

Why is it so bad for me to want to use these embryos and close out our process? It seems somehow wrong not to. To me. Please understand this is my thought process and my situation, so if your situation is different, I am in NO WAY judging you and your decisions. However, there is embryo donation. But for me, I feel like we don't have embryos from a successful cohort, so who would want them? Can I donate embryos to someone else that don't have a good track record from the buddies who came before them? This has been asked. The answer-and-question-all-at-once, WHAT IF THEY WORK IN SOMEONE ELSE? has come up. That one hurts. It hurts because then it's really my uterus and my ability to carry that's the problem, ultimately, and that would really make me feel terrible. It is definitely not my fault, and it is nothing whatsoever that I've done, but it would feel that way. It would feel like I was the ultimate failure in the equation, and even though I would be so mad at anyone who would say the same to themselves, I'd be all "it's not your fault!" and "stop blaming yourself, crazypants!" I can't take my own advice. It is hard for me to think that these embryos would work for someone else. Gestational carrier is so tricky in NY and is a path that comes with its own difficulties, so we probably wouldn't do that as tempting as it is to me to figure out if it's my uterus that's the culprit. I know people who have done that and it STILL didn't work out. Better to move on to a process that is no longer medical in nature, no longer a treatment, something that separates us from all that. Why can't I let these embryos go?

Would life be easier, be simpler in some way if I could?

Is the only thing keeping me from diving into adoption these frozen embryos?

YES.

Is it that I believe these are our last chances at pregnancy, at an experience that otherwise we need to let go of?

Sort of.

In talking in the car today, it is painfully apparent that while I hope that we experience that, I just can't see it anymore. I want to, but that version of a future reality has been stripped away, layer by layer, by every negative, every loss, every cancellation, every surgery that reveals some new hideous hurdle. I have friends who tell me they still see that for me. Good for them, because I can't. It actually hurts to imagine it, because it has hurt so much to lose that hope and that dream every time it is not our reality to hold. But can I see us with a baby in our arms? Absolutely.

It is so hard to put this to paper, to make it real in a sense. Not to crap it up with an example from my ugly past life, but it is almost like when I suspected my ex-husband was cheating on me but had no concrete proof, and while it hurt so much to have that betrayal exposed to me, it was also a relief. Because there was this truth that was lurking beneath this glass, and I didn't want to face it, but I could move on with my life and have a MUCH BETTER existence if only I faced it. It took someone else exposing disgusting emails and telling me things in a way I couldn't deny for me to finally be like, yes, I guess I knew this in some way, okay, this sucks and it hurts, but now I can let that go and move on to a new chapter. And if I could go back to my previous self and tell her what amazingly wonderful things await her, even when the loss of what I thought I had was so fresh and raw, I don't even know if Old Me would believe it. It would be like a fairy tale of sorts, because my life now is SO DIFFERENT. And so much better, even with all this infertility horrificness.

I have heard that couples who end treatment and go down the adoption path feel this way too. They want to go back and tell their Old Selves what awaits them on the other side of that loss, that it's so worth it, and that they wish they'd discovered this earlier. It seems so similar, except in this case there's no one else to break the glass and let this truth out, it has to be me who comes to grip with the fact that I can't have the happiness without accepting the truth that pregnancy is just not our way to a baby. That if I can just make it through the howling and the finality of realizing that IVF DID NOT WORK FOR US, THAT WE WILL NEVER BE PREGNANT, then I can move forward and start a beautiful new chapter that has its own challenges and is not, by any stretch of the imagination, easy...but we can have a child. I can be a mom. We can be parents. We can have that dream of holding our infant come into focus and become a beautiful reality.

It is a big loss for me to come to grips with. In the grand scheme of things, pregnancy is such a tiny part of parenthood. But it's a part I wanted. It's a part you never think won't be for you. I feel small and materialistic in a way, admitting this, but it is hard for me to let go of telling people I'm pregnant, of my maternity photo shoot, of shopping for my baby shower with a beautiful bump in front of me, of holding up tiny clothes at my baby shower and resting them on my ginormous belly, of hearing a heartbeat, of birthing our baby in whatever way and meeting him or her on the outside after bonding on the inside. So many things can still be had, just not how I imagined. And that imagined life, the one that plays out daily on facebook and Christmas letters and whatnot...it's hard to surrender. But surrendered it must be to move on and greet the beautiful life that is waiting for us.

I am not 100% of the way there. While the thought of sticking myself with another goddamn needle makes me want to puke, and even tomorrow I have to go, on New Year's Eve, for a midcycle ultrasound at my OB/GYN to gather data for our February cycle, and that makes me feel icky, I have a hard time not finishing this out. We have a consultation, a post-cancelled-cycle consult appointment in person that I set up because we wanted to see our doctor face to face and have a difficult conversation before getting started on this next go-round, our last one with ready-made blasts and maybe the last one ever if those 2PNs fail to grow out to Day 5. It's next week. I am testing out the idea of letting it go. Why should this next cycle turn out any different than the cancelled one? Why should my lining cooperate this time? Why should we have any hope that this will work? Seriously, why?

Right now the plan is to execute these two FETs and do the application. To focus on the application and not the FETs. Hard to do when the FETs require so much time off from school to drive to Buffalo and rest and all the needles and the side effects and the feeling of hope that dwindles and then surges and then dwindles and then surges and, historically, then leaves us feeling bereft and lost. But maybe, if we are focusing on this new door, this new route, then a negative would feel more like a step towards resolution, towards reaching our path.

I struggle so much. Can I let go of the embryos now? Can I embrace the new path 100% and leave this medical disaster behind, unfinished, unresolved by anyone but us? Would those embryos haunt us? Bryce asked if I'd consider saving them for later and adopting now, then trying for a sibling with these embryos later. Interesting idea. But will my uterus continue to deteriorate? Will that just force the issue and make it moot?

There is a Buddhist saying that I first read, ironically, in a women's magazine (quoted by a famous actress who recently went through her own personal uprooting). "Let go or be dragged." It is so simple. It is so powerful. It spoke to me. It's haunted me. Every time I dig my heels in and want to keep going with our FETs, it whispers in the back of my consciousness. "You're being dragged." There is another quote attributed to Buddha (but apparently is REALLY from a book by a guy named Jack Kornfield, called Buddha's Little Instruction Book, so I guess it's in the spirit of Buddha) that raises my hackles, but speaks to me and I hate it but also understand it more every day... "In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you." Can you see why this raises my hackles? The idea that something can be NOT MEANT FOR YOU is deeply offensive to me, like someone somewhere is making a judgment, especially when this thing is granted to people who don't want it ALL THE TIME. But really, the reason why I think it bothers me so much? It's a hard truth. It lurks beneath glass and needs to be let out. It bothers me because it may be true but hard to face, that pregnancy is just not meant for me, not now, at this point in my life, maybe not ever. As of this moment it has not been our lasting reality, and I feel a little foolish for pursuing it still when there is SO MUCH HISTORY telling us that we are chasing a dream of epic proportions.

So can I let go? Can I face this truth? Is there a smidgen of hope left that I could have the hands on a big belly that belongs to me and see this dream fulfilled? Or is the true dream, the best dream, holding a baby that we have loved since we first committed to trying to have a child, a baby that grew in someone else's tummy but is meant for us to love and raise and complete our family? Chase and grasp or let go and find joy? Accept that our path is truly ending on the medical side and embrace a different reality than we originally imagined but one that is far more joyful than our current reality?

"Let go or be dragged." It is so much easier to read it than to live it.

10 comments:

  1. Oh Jess, I just want to give you a giant hug. And then step back and give you another one. This is so hard.

    I completely understand why you need to try with your embryos. I am a firm believer of doing what you have to do to be ready--mentally, physically, emotionally. After B's first surgery without finding any sperm, he wanted to try Clomid for a year and then have another surgery. Initially that decision upset me. I didn't want to wait--I was ready to have a baby yesterday, and every month that passed made it more difficult for me to use my eggs.

    But B couldn't be 100% OK with using DS without taking that path and I couldn't have the father of our baby plagued with what ifs. So we waited. And now we're where we are.

    Every decision is so fraught with emotion and it's hard to know if your'e making the right choice. But all you can do it go with what you think is best for you, for Bryce and your children. If that means having the FET, then you have to do it.

    I know I gave this to you already, but if you didn't before, check out Julia Spenser at http://findingawayoutofif.blogspot.com/ you should. She just posted about things she didn't expect about becoming a mom. One of her bullet points says "That I would feel like adopting a baby was better than having it myself." And her journey was tough, she tried so hard to get pregnant and had so many heartbreaks; she wasn't ready to move to adoption as quickly as her husband, they took a break, and then she was ready to move on. I feel like I'm pushing her story, but I love that she found her perfect happy ending.

    I so get wanting to be pregnant. It was important to me and when people asked about adoption, my gut would clench, my heart would harden and I would say that we're not interested in that yet. We would have got there, I'm sure. But we really wanted to experience pregnancy. I also, perhaps irrationally, didn't want to adopt an embryo. If it wasn't our genes, I wanted it to be our choice. I also didn't want full genetic siblings out there. All of this is to say, that we just need to make the choices that are right for us.

    I'm so, so sorry that you're going through this. I hope with all my heart that this FET will happen. I hope that 2015 will be your year. It will happen--it will happen in a way that you can't imagine and it will be perfect.

    More hugs, friend. xoxoxoxo

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    1. Thank you so much for your hugs, they really are so appreciated (and felt, even through the interwebs!). What's really interesting to me is that when I finished this post, I felt very much like while I am conflicted, the direction I am leaning in is to let go of the embryos and move forward 100% with adoption... which is apparently not how it came out! I think that it's like a weird doorway into my brain and decision making process, and I am just as confused as before. My best friend read it and called me to say that "That seemed like an exhausting post to write. Well thought out and well written, but EXHAUSTING." It was. I never cry when I write them, only when I read them after, but this one was a leaky mess the whole way through.

      I appreciate so much your personal experiences with being ready to take that next step, both for you and B, and I love that it has resulted in happiness. I also love Julia Spenser's blog--I hadn't visited it yet but I devoured it last night and it made me cry.

      I am realizing that we want a family, and we are feeling like we are being held back in some way, yet there is still potential in those embryos (but at what cost?). An interesting comment from Bryce--"Do you feel the loss of potential of the birth mom that could have been matched with us whose baby was born last year? The adoptions that could have happened had we moved on earlier?" It's not judgy, but it's very interesting to think of the potential for family stymied on both sides. I love Julia's story. I love her happy ending. I have to read it from the beginning.

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, and your ongoing support, and your ability to really make me think (more) on this whole mess. (I also loved your comment that if it wasn't your genes, you wanted it to be your choice...I hadn't really thought about that perspective of embryo adoption, but it's true--it's someone else's choice for genes...) I'm not sure really what I want 2015 to bring, other than a family. A family for us. I want that so badly.

      Happy New Year, and hugs right back to you, friend!

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  2. Such an honest, heartfelt, reasoned post. I can understand your feelings, and yes, I also understand your feeling about that quote. I like the "let go or be dragged" idea, which is effectively what the second quote is saying too, but with language that implies judgement. I reject any judgement though - things will happen or they won't, and judgement isn't involved. I wish you well in your decision!

    PS. I had to laugh at the whole conversation in the car/held hostage concept. I know exactly what you mean.

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    1. Thank you, Mali. I agree, the second quote is TOTALLY judgy. Who is this force saying things aren't MEANT for people? But it's funny, because I kind of get it, and there's a gracefulness that I feel I lack when it comes to putting things to rest. But, at the same time, I feel like it's not like we're beating dead horses over here. Every decision we've made has been due to good medical information, so really I should give myself a break. :) I appreciate you schooling that second quote!

      YES--car trips can be absolutely dangerous for that reason. This time it was good, but hard, but ultimately good.

      Thank you for your thoughts!

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  3. While we came at our decision to adopt from a slightly different IF path, I absolutely understand your perspective and need to use the embryos you have before you move onto adoption. We had to seek our of country medical advice before we were willing to fully embrace adoption. Not because of biology, but because we needed to know that we had no other option so that in 20 years we had no regrets. In my experience, for whatever it is worth, only you and your husband will know what is best for you. These decisions are huge, and hard and there is no single right answer. Heck, just the other day I said to my husband maybe we should just try one more time because I was feeling very overwhelmed with the cost and process to adopt.
    P.S. I love the hard conversation in the car technique - we do it all the time!! Nothing like a good road trip to deal with life. :)

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    1. Thank you so much for your thoughts! I have been following your blog after finding it on parenthooddiaries, which seems to have disappeared, and I was so happy to have found you. The decisions are tough for sure. For us, it's funny because it's not so much about the genetics, since at this point genetics are already half out the window for each of us with the remaining embryos that we have. We have already lost that baby that is a combination of the both of us, and we have made peace with that. It's all a process! Just requested the 2015 adoption registration packet from our agency today, so we are getting that ball rolling. I am hopeful that things will play out well for both of us in the near future! And yay road trip conversations. :)

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  4. Oh Jess. You're in the hardest of hard places. Handling it with admirable thoughtfulness and introspection, as always. I totally understand why you wouldn't want to give up on those embryos. Of course. Those are your potential babies. And moving on now to adoption also is a valid path. Not that you need me to tell you this. I just wanted you to know that I get it. Rock and a hard place is an understatement...

    Shooting out super-powered support to you in this new year, honey.



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    1. Thanks, lady. I so appreciate your support. I am feeling pretty good about our special crazy place right now, and hopefully after this Wednesday will be even more evened out. This year has got to be a year of new beginnings.

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  5. Jess, I am trying to catch up with everything that is going on with you, and while this is a few weeks late, I just want to say a few things.

    First, I know it is really hard not to consider the fears of those around you. You care about them. You love them. They matter in your life. And they love and care about you. But as you said, their fears are really things you have already considered, so you just have to focus on your plan and not on what other people think, or what you think they think because that is part of what will make things more difficult.

    Second, I noticed you mentioned adoption throughout and the themes of needing to get there on your own. And you are absolutely right. You have to come to that in your own way and your own time. But I can promise you that while it is painful to let one dream go, pursuing the ultimate dream of parenthood through adoption is amazing. It is amazing, and hard, and emotional, and uncertain, and most of all; a new beginning. It was for me anyway. But, I too, had to get their on my own in my own way. Of course, you know how that ended for me, so its easy for me to type this now.

    I want you to get to the other side, no matter how it happens. And I am rooting for you. I am rooting for your family. I believe you should follow your plan and do the things that you feel you need to finish, and then reconsider your options. You never know what this new year might bring. Hugs to you.

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    1. Thank you--this is such a thoughtful comment, and I appreciate so much the perspective from your experience. This in-between is so hard to live in. We are feeling excited about adoption, but need that closure on our embryos before we can fully embrace it. It makes it hard because it seems flip-floppy, or so I fear. At this point we do value parenthood above everything else, but with these embryos hanging out there can't completely let go of the possibility of pregnancy. It is entirely possible that we'll be completely done in February. If not, April. It's so soon, and scary, but at the same time not soon enough. Do I hold out for a miracle that will end our journey where we are now? A tiny bit. But really? I am feeling so discouraged by the treatment aspect of things that it is hard for me to have a whole lot of hope and faith. I hate that, I feel like it's like crying when you make cake--the bitterness is bound to come through in the taste or texture. Or maybe there's a little too much "Like Water for Chocolate" type stuff in my head and it's really no big deal. It's an adjustment.

      It helps to have a plan in place and to know that there is an end and a beginning in sight, no matter which way the cookie crumbles. Thank you for your support, I so appreciate it!

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