Thursday, April 26, 2018

Someday I'll Be Done Telling People

Last week, we attended an event hosted by our first fertility clinic, CARE After Cancer. Its aim is to raise money for fertility preservation in patients who are diagnosed with cancer and need to make a rapid fire decision before chemo and/or radiation treatments begin. It covers some of the cost of the egg retrieval and egg/embryo freezing, depending on the situation of the young woman.

It's a great cause , and helps women to have options at a time when their life is top priority but fertility can be at risk, too.

We've gone almost every year since the second year it was held, and this was the 9th. We went when we were patients ourselves, and when we left for our second clinic. We went when we started adoption, and we went this year. We've been through three venues and a steadily growing attendance.

Last year we didn't go, because March of last year was from the devil and Bryce was just coming back from his California business trip and my eye was all messed up, and we didn't know yet that Bryce would be real sick for two weeks after returning from his trip.

But we went this year, because it's a great cause and we get to see people we genuinely like on a personal level and the silent auction is full of great goodies. And it was at a fancy venue, so I got to dress up all fancy, which I love.

All fancy and ready to go tear it up!

Pictures Bryce took of me when we went out for a bite to eat after, since there was not a whole lot I could eat at the event. He sent these to me the next day at work because it came up in his Google Assistant, with the text "my wife is so pretty!" They are lovely photos, but I think that's because of who I'm looking at. 

Every year there is a speech by a patient; someone who has been able to take advantage of the program and can speak to what a gift it was to have one less thing to worry about at an incredibly difficult time. There's also a video that helps to tell the emotional story. This year, the former patient could not be there in person because she had twins earlier in the week. What was fascinating is that these are the first children to be born from the program -- lots of people have had eggs or embryos frozen, but it takes a long time to be off all the medications, apparently, and then be ready for going through IVF, and so this was the first time there's been a birth. The video included ultrasound footage, and Bryce turned to me and said, "Are you okay with this?" which was so sweet. I was. I mean, it's always been hard in the past to hear the stories, not because I don't empathize with how awful it would be to have to go through IVF not because you are infertile but because your body tried to kill you and that was collateral damage, but because in the past women have been mothers who wanted a second child, or young women who spoke of having children like it was an eventuality. I hope for these women it is, because they've been through so much. But knowing what it's like to "do IVF" and have it fail over and over and over, I can't help but be nervous for the added grief that could happen if they are counting on the "preserved fertility" frozen eggs or embryos and it doesn't work out. So the assumption that it will has bothered me in the past more because of my own triggered emotions than because of any jealousy (because they aren't having a walk in the park either).

But I was perfectly fine while watching this video and news story on the first babies to be born from the program... which I think in large part was due to the fact that we're resolved, and so I know that experience is not for me. It was funny though when the newscaster who emcee'd the event accredited the mom's biologist background to knowing that a high HCG value could mean twins -- "It takes a biology background to know that from a number, ha ha!" he said as I leaned towards Bryce and whispered, "Or years of infertility experience..." We aren't the target audience there, though. Not many infertility patients return to go to this fundraiser.

I was a little surprised that so many people didn't already know that our parenting journey ended. I mean, we send our old RE a holiday card each year, and it spelled it out pretty clearly....and I'm facebook friends with a nurse or two, but I guess our failures to generate progeny by any means doesn't come up naturally when you're getting luckier people pregnant.

We ended up telling our tale at least four times. I was going to say, "Our tale of woe," but that's not really accurate.

It's a tough balancing act, conveying the enormity of what we lost along with how incredibly happy we are to be living our life, free of the tetanus-rusted chains of uncertainty. I wanted them to know that it's not a sad end, at least not entirely -- that there is true joy in reframing your life, shifting priorities, and living free of "maybe THIS time next year..." and an empty nursery that never manifested a human inhabitant.

I wanted them to know that we say "we resolved childfree" not all Eeyore-like and seeped in all we'll never have, but with a sense of joyful relief to be sprung  from our prison of misfortune and the gifts of happiness that come from exiting a whirlpool of sadness. We're no longer circling, going nowhere but down by slow degrees. We're off on a new course, wind in our sails.

I have a lot of metaphors for our life now.

Still, although it was good to tell our story "from the other side," a side they likely don't hear from often, it was EXHAUSTING. And I couldn't help but think... are these the last people we'll tell this to who knew us when we were trying so hard for something that wasn't going to ever be our future? Are we done? Or are there other people lurking who know the first parts of our story but not the end of this particular arc?

It would be lovely if we were done. If future conversations could center on who we are NOW, rather than the roles we'd hoped to have but failed to acquire, every single time.

We had a great time, although it was disconcerting to think on all the people in the room who've seen my lady bits up close and personal. We walked away with an Italian wine basket and a 2-night stay in a cabin in the Finger Lakes, which we'll enjoy for our anniversary in October. I stalked that one hard, bidding three different times. We also donated just plain cash, and it was more than a little ironic that we are funding someone else's chance to have children, not because they are infertile, per se, but because they are treating a life-threatening disease.

There's also a certain beauty in the fact that for us, having no children gives us more financial freedom to contribute more generously to this people facing a different challenge have the chance to have what we could not.


  1. Jess, those photos of you are gorgeous! And I love your items you walked away with. That sounds so fun! As usual, you articulate "ending fertility treatments" beautifully.

  2. LOVE those pictures of you!!! My favorite part of this entry: "...which I think in large part was due to the fact that we're resolved..." What a beautiful, strong, present-tense sentence. Love you!

  3. Jess!! Those pictures of you are SO beautiful. I am telling you, Jess, you can really see what a better place you are shows so much in your smile, and I swear it makes you look years younger. Love you hair straight, too!! You just look amazing!
    And I get what it’s like when you meet people who don’t know something major...10 years later I still run in to people who don’t know my Dad had passed away (I didn’t tell the masses, only a select few close people, it was just too much) so it’s really exhausting when that topic comes up. It’s not any easier to have that conversation, even though I can talk about it, it is definitely awkward with the weird sympathy/sadness it gets from others.

  4. Love the pix and especially the caption.

    I can see why you would like this last vestige of your previous chapter wrapped up: telling people -- all the people! And I also like how you describe the balancing act between the weight and the lightness. What generous hearts you have, and if you wanna send that Finger Lakes thing my way, feel free. ;-)

  5. You look great!! Kudos to you for going and for supporting a great cause, albeit one that brings up some painful/uncomfortable reminders. I am not sure I could do it...!) I don't know when you're ever done telling people & dealing with uncomfortable conversations, but as the years go by, those moments will be further & fewer between. I hope you'll post some photos of your Finger Lakes getaway in the fall!

  6. You look gorgeous and you have a beautiful heart to support this cause. I never want to have anything to do with my fertility clinic ever again, so I admire your....lack of resentment? It’s truly admirable. I hope soon you dont need to tell the same story again and again.

    1. Agreed! You look AMAZING and so happy! I have only ever set foot again at my fertility clinic to give them meds before they expired but hope I never have to go back again so kudos to you guys for attending the benefit!

  7. Wow, you look wonderful in those photos! It's so cool that you go and support this event. You've got such an amazing way of putting into words your truth. Hopefully this is the last time you have to do that for a bit, though.

    Also, have fun with your auction wins - those sound really great!

  8. Wow, what a beautiful post. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous - the freedom, the contentment, the compassion and generosity towards others. You should be so proud of this.

    And yes, the words weren't the only gorgeous things in this post! ;-)

  9. I agree with Charlotte, you look so young and pretty in those pictures! I'm so glad to hear you are in mainly a good place these days. I could see how it must be hard to tell people and convey how hard it was/is, while also wanting to show that you are doing well now.

  10. You are my hero, Jess. You have such a good and generous heart. I’m so glad you and Bryce have come so far in your journey, so that you can not only rejoice in what you have, but you are contributing to others in their journey. Bravo.