In years past, I did not so much participate in Thankful November. For those who don't already know, this is a thing where you post (on FaceBook) something you are thankful for every day in November. I am still in my love/hate relationship with FaceBook, and I thought this year would be a good one to consciously try to publicly acknowledge the things I am thankful for each and every day. You don't need FaceBook for this, really--you could just meditate a bit on what you are thankful for every day, but it's kind of nice to add something meaningful to the countless memes, selfies, blow-by-blows of household chores, and baby photos. Oh, so many baby photos. Sometimes my thankfulness posts have been on the facetious side (I am thankful for Uncle Woody's caramel popcorn... mmmm that is good stuff), frequently food-related. Sometimes mine have been love letters to my husband, because he deserves them. And sometimes they have been infertility related. I am thankful for hope. I am thankful for support. I am thankful for nonjudgmentalness. (Not a word, but whatever.) I am thankful for friends. I am thankful for family.
Several days ago, I started to type in, "I am thankful for choices." I was going to say, "I am thankful for choices. They may not always be easy, but I am thankful that they exist." And then...I could not do it.
Am I thankful for choices?
In one way, HELL YES. I am forever grateful for the medical technology that exists that makes it possible for me to still be batting around the idea of motherhood via pregnancy. Decades ago, I would have had to decide between living child-free and adoption long ago. I would not have had a way to treat my medical condition. I would not have reason for the hope I have that maybe I could be pregnant and birth our child.
On the other hand, having these choices has turned into a bit of a double-edged sword. Because there is so much medical technology out there, the carrot continues to dangle. The promise of one more cycle leading to "our miracle" is out there, gleaming on the horizon. Or glinting. Perhaps with a bit of a taunt in that eyeshine. I find it incredibly difficult to move on when this possibility exists. I am not stupid, but I am stubborn. To have the consult with CCRM and the first of our two semi-local consults result in the feeling that another cycle with different components (be they medications or gametes) could be our ticket to success was both encouraging and...not. Because in a weird way, I think we were almost hoping that we would be told "forget it, this will not happen for you." But we weren't. We were told, "perhaps you have been barking up the wrong tree. Perhaps a bit more tweaking will end this godawful losing streak." With percentages that still aren't 100%, but are high enough to give me pause. How can I let that go? How can I not give that a shot? A "last hurrah" if you will?
Am I willing to put myself through this punishing promise for the hope that I will finally have my miracle? I have enough choices that it is possible for me to believe this is the case. We have options. We have tests that haven't been done yet, and treatment options we haven't tried yet. It's not out of the realm of possibility. We could end on a high note and go home with our precious baby that I baked myself. How many times do we hear the miracle stories of women who tried and tried and tried and right when they were ready to move on (usually phrased as "give up"), they got pregnant. I've heard this story. I've seen it firsthand from actual people, not internet myths or friends-of-friends-of-friends. But does that mean it will be me? How many times have I thought this is my time? I'll tell you. 8 times. The last 4 were among the "We have suffered enough. This is our time, it has to be." Nope, it does not have to be anything. It is possible to suffer. And suffer. And suffer.
I have another choice. I can choose to end this right now, to leave the stone unturned, and to pick another path. A path that has its own uncertainties, but a new path to learn about and research and journey down, one that WILL result in a baby. So why can't I pick it right now?
Because I have too many choices.
Because I need to throw myself into this last hurrah. After realizing that there is a stone, a big fat, hulking stone, left hideously unturned, I must push it over. I must know if hope lies beneath it, and the reality of parenthood somewhat how we dreamed it years ago when we first decided to have a family together. I must do this last thing, and I do mean LAST, to know that I did everything. Writing it now it sounds so silly. I have done so, so, so much leading up to this point. I have taken shots in the thigh and sustained nerve damage in my hips and legs. I have researched so much that when I look into a new therapy and there is a choice between "Women and Families" and "Physicians," I pick the "Physicians" side, hands down. Don't dumb it down for me. I want to know the language of power so that I can converse with doctors in their language. I have done so many things, sane and not so sane, to try to make this work. And it hasn't. But...I feel we have enough information that is new that I think we've missed something.
However--if we do all the tests and they all come back showing normal everything... that will put a chink in my well-armored reserve to hit me baby one more time. We need to have enough different that we truly feel that we are not beating a nearly-dead horse. Otherwise, that door can creak shut so that I can fling myself into the new door. Right now I feel that I have two feet, one in each door. I have these two choices and they both have their merits.
Monday we went to the adoption agency orientation. It was amazing. It was very hopeful, very positive--everything pointing to a resolution and a family within our reach. I teared up many times. I felt moved. I felt... I could DO THIS.
So why am I not? Not right now, anyway?
Because on Wednesday we had another second opinion at a clinic about an hour away. It was also very hopeful, very positive. This clinic can do many of the insanely cool things CCRM can do, and was open to many different options. And the pricing was phenomenal. We could do our last shot here without too much damage to our financial ability to afford adoption. It was another good choice.
I am really struggling. This is kind of a stream of consciousness post, because I don't really know where I'm going. Sooner or later, I need to close the door on treatment and I understand that I will likely have to be the one to do it. I just have the hardest time thinking that I can leave treatment behind when I have done all 8 of our transfers with the same clinic. We need a bit of innovation. I need to know that we didn't just go with what was cozy. Given a cancer diagnosis, you would never just go with one clinic if you weren't seeing results. You would fight for your life (given the ability). You would seek a second opinion. In hindsight, I feel like we should have committed to a second opinion earlier. But you live and learn. We are super loyal people and it is at times to our detriment. It's not too late. We can do a Hail Mary cycle elsewhere, give it our best go with different protocols and tests and technology, and see where we land. And then move on.
The question is, will it be worth it? I could decide to shut the door and get started on a homestudy process this month and be well on my way to bringing an infant home from the hospital. I could start a new journey with a new sense of hope and purpose. If only I could let go of the overwhelming desire to have us experience pregnancy and birth and maternity clothes and baby showers before the baby is here and setting up a nursery for a baby that is likely arriving on a known timetable (no guarantees though, given possibility of preterm labor and premature birth). I feel selfish saying this, like I want all the accoutrements when the important thing is the BABY, the FAMILY that we will have, and not the ruched tops and shooting merchandise with a laser gun. It's not just those material things. It's the feeling of being robbed of an experience we were supposed to have. That experience that exists all around us but may never come to fruition in the way we dreamed.
But is that so bad? To have your dream altered in its mode of arrival and gestation? To paraphrase a comment I received on my last blog, am I willing to sacrifice a year with my child in the effort to have that child in the way I dreamed it, even though that has already changed and been sacrificed in so many ways?
The choice of adoption is a very appealing one. I am very open to this option and grateful that we have such an amazing adoption agency in our area. But I know myself well enough to know that I cannot, CANNOT pursue both medical treatment and adoption at the same time. As much as it would "save time," I cannot do homestudy classes and an IVF cycle at the same time. I'm an all or nothing kind of gal, and I immerse myself utterly in what I'm pursuing. And what I'm pursuing, while flagging behind a bit, remains medical treatment for infertility. One last shot with a new team. I would not honestly be able to answer honestly that I have resolved my infertility and have committed to adoption without this "last hurrah." I think that is a good thing. I want to give the process my all. I want to be as devoted to adoption as I have been to medical treatment. I cannot split myself between the two choices equally. I just don't have it in me. It wouldn't be fair to anyone. I would always wonder. I may still wonder if we try something new and it doesn't work, but at least I will know I did all I was capable of doing. I think my FutureBaby could appreciate that--I want to honor his/her mode of arrival with all my being. And I can't do that with a foot in both worlds.
Bryce has been very supportive of my convoluted decision-making process. And I reserve the right to change my mind. I could get started on injections again and feel an overwhelming sense of WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO YOURSELF? A sense of WRONG. And then the choice will be clear. Or I could get into this new cycle and feel a new sense of hope with every stick and every painful, swollen follicle. I don't know. See what I mean about the choices?
I am grateful. I am grateful that these choices are there for me to make. Selfishly I wish that they weren't so that the path could be clear. But, really, when in life is the path EVER completely clear? There is so much room for regret, but that is a wasted emotion. I could already regret giving one clinic 8 cycles. But we did, and we don't regret it. It would have probably been a good idea to seek a second opinion before going DE IVF. We basically did a very expensive experiment. But there are never any guarantees. And it seemed the right decision at the time. And, actually, we learned something from it. Too bad we're not eccentric millionaires. One last shot. With another clinic. With new components (sorry frosty 2PNs, we may be putting you on the back burner first... I can't lose my endurance for needle sticks and ultrasounds with frozens that may or may not be any good based on everything so far). With the knowledge that our hearts are open to adoption once we can give it our all. It's all out of hope. And love. And respect. Respect for the tiny life that we long to be responsible for and love. Respect for not only our journey, but his or hers. I so wish it could be easier.