Sunday, August 28, 2011

Coming To Grips With Reality

This week was a blur--a hazy montage of doctor's appointments, pain, phone calls, hospital wards, medications, instructions, and sensations both physical and emotional. I did not have the chance to really stop and realize what everthing truly meant until recently, and even then I am still feeling pretty numb.

I think that part of the problem is that this whole summer was focused on our reproductive endeavors in one way or another, and the way that it went made the summer fly by in a blaze of confusion and uncertainty. The plan for this summer was that I would not teach summer school, I would focus on getting ready for my new positions at two schools in my district while really focusing on getting pregnant as my top priority. July would be all about our IVF cycle, and August would be all about acclimating to our new status--whether that would be the joy and terror of a new pregnancy or figuring out what to do if it failed again. It seemed like an awesome, straightforward plan. It seemed like it would give me plenty of time to deal before school started in September. I was a mastermind of time and scheduling.

Or not.

I had no way of knowing that July would be freaking fantastic--a banner month with the best-news cycle we'd ever had. July was amazing--we had an excellent response, we had beautiful embryos, it was a much calmer and less difficult cycle to deal with emotionally and physically, we had embryos to freeze, we had three to transfer, it was looking really promising. It was hands down our best cycle ever. At the end of July/early August our fears were mostly focused on the chances that we could end up parents of triplets, a scary thought but when you transfer three beautiful embryos, a thought you have to seriously entertain (I don't think anyone can truly be prepared for the reality of triplets in advance).

I had no way of knowing that as awesome as July was, that August would be so hard. Well, hard and beautiful. I had implantation bleeding a few days before my test--light spotting that is the stuff of infertility fairytales--everyone looks for it and hopes it's a sign of pregnancy and not a harbinger of period doom. I felt PMS-y, which was scary but also very encouraging, as most people I know who have gotten pregnant before me on this journey (which at this point feels like everyone) felt that way before their positive test. I was nauseous and nervous but had a strong thread of confidence that we were pregnant. And we were. But barely. August became a month of living day to day. Of enjoying every day that I was still pregnant. Of trying to focus on the miracle of the life struggling inside me rather than the dire statistics telling us that it wasn't likely to last. Of creating playlists and rituals and traditions to support my babyling in its struggle. It was beautiful and exhausting. I had a test every other day or every couple of days, which meant that I could work on school stuff on the days I wasn't receiving a call and on the days I was receiving a call that could potentially end our bubble of fragile bliss, I was good for nothing. Which meant that half the time I really was good for nothing. The weeks in August that were meant for studying up on algebra and earth science and structuring a resource room were spent stalking my phone, reading picture books to my belly, begging for miracles. We honestly were still keeping that miracle alive until Monday when we saw nothing on the ultrasound, and then any possibility that I could get anything done for September went flying out the window.

So I am left dealing with the reality of my situation. That although if I were to pee on a stick today it might still give me a positive thanks to wacky hormones, I am not pregnant anymore. Logically I know that this was a doomed pregnancy that would never have produced our miracle baby. Emotionally I am empty and raw and grieving my chance to harbor a blueberry. I didn't quite get to blueberry size, the emails I had signed up for (and have since unsubscribed from) had the babyling at a poppyseed, then a sesame seed, then a lentil bean. I lost my bean just 3 days shy of graduating to blueberry. I know this is not actually right, because our bean didn't follow the proper growth patterns and was squished in my tube, so I am saved the horrifying vision of a baby-shaped tumor in my tube. It really was a mass of cells, but I prefer to remember it as halfway between lentil and blueberry.

My house is full of remnants of my brief pregnancy--the gallon of milk in the fridge (I wanted to be sure I was getting enough calcium, I was on a self-subscribed glass-a-day to support development); the closet full of progesterone-in-oil (I do not miss the shots but I do miss terribly the reason for continuing them); the supplement box full of my prenatals and baby aspirin and other pills that I can take a break from now that I'm not sustaining a (dysfunctional) life; the stack of picture books that we rotated through and read to our babyling to help it see just how loved it was already (Stellaluna, Verdi, Whoooo Loves You?, Guess How Much I Love You, Moon Child, The Dream of the Little Elephant, I Love You So Much, The Stone Wall Dragon, Goodnight Ocean) are in my guest room along with the child's rocking chair, stuffed elephant, onesies, ceramic elephant, and pregnancy books. Everything is tucked away for next time. And we had a lot of stuff to tuck.

I don't regret the exuberance with which we embraced our tenuous pregnancy, as hard as it makes it to reconcile its violent end. We made a conscious decision to enjoy every day, starting with that low, low 12 and ending with our empty ultrasound that was really the end of our miracle story. And we did it--I said "I'm pregnant" to Bryce with joy in my heart as often as I could. We wrote letters to our baby and felt silly and joyful to sign them "mom" and "dad." I reveled in every bout of nausea because it meant that maybe I would stay pregnant. I don't regret that we chose to be excited while we could, because it did not last. And while it is hard to see my gallon of milk and my food comparison emails that I haven't deleted yet, and especially hard to be aware of my boobs (they seem to be the last to get the memo--they are still very heavy and swollen and pregnant), in a way I love coming across these things. Because everything was so fast and hazy that I could possibly forget that I WAS PREGNANT. I was the miracle for short period of time, and as painful as it is that it's gone, I am so happy that I had that experience. That is my reality now. I cry and I sob and I mourn because I lost something, but the amazing thing is that I had something to lose.   

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