Recently, I received an email from someone who has a friend who is currently having major fertility issues. She didn’t specify the details. She just said that her friend was spending thousands of dollars on infertility treatments, that they haven’t had any success and she wanted to sit her friend down and tell her that it was time to “let it go”. The writer asked what I thought.
Short of writing back, “Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!”, I told her that under no circumstances should she ever tell her friend to let it go, give up or move on. Of course, I don’t know all the details but I DO know that if you’re trying to have a baby and you're having a difficult time with it, it’s for you, your doctor and your partner to decide when enough is enough.
I should note that although this person didn’t tell me whether or not she herself had children, I can’t help but suspect that she not only does, but that she most likely didn’t have any issues getting pregnant. Otherwise, she wouldn’t even consider having this chat with her friend. No one should ever tell anyone else to give up hope.
I’ve often joked that I’m in an abusive relationship with hope. Hope has been known to f*ck people over and it’s also been known to drive people towards their goal. It's a tricky thing and I still have yet to totally make peace with it.
This all makes me think about a series of unique anniversaries I’ve had recently. On Memorial Day last year, it was the transfer for my third in vitro and on June 10th, 2011, I found out I was pregnant. This year, in honor of these two occasions, I took a moment, held my son and made sure to fully appreciate how far I’ve come and how very grateful I am.
It’s humbling to look at MJ and remember all that we went through to get him. It’s also down right overwhelming to think of him as a little 8-cell embryo; the only one that survived out of thirteen eggs. Last year, right before they did the transfer, they showed me a picture. I looked at it and asked the doctor, “Since I only have one, do you think we should have done assisted hatching?” He answered, “Not with an embryo this perfect.” At the time, I had such little hope that I didn’t think much of that statement. Now that it’s a year later though, I can’t help but agree. He was a perfect embryo… and now, he’s a perfect little baby I’m able to hug and kiss (which I do often).
My husband calls MJ the human equivalent of Prozac. He is truly a smiley, giggly guy that easily can make a whole room of people laugh. I think of the people my husband and I were last year during that third cycle. We spent a lot of time in separate rooms depressed. We were hopeless, isolated and at odds with whether or not we could afford or even bear doing any more infertility treatments. These days, things are just so different. We’re usually all in the same room, together, laughing and deeply appreciative that we finally have the child we dreamed of. It sounds disgustingly corny but I honestly think that at least twice a day, one of us will turn to the other and say, “Can you believe this? We have a son!” He is our miracle.
I’ve gotten a few emails asking why I still write about infertility when I could be writing about being a new mom. After my experience, they go hand in hand. I am a new mom after struggling to get pregnant. I can’t speak for everyone but for me personally, like it or not, infertility has effected how I am as a mother. I don’t believe I would have been as patient or as “in the moment” if it wasn’t for our fertility issues. I would have taken it more for granted, I would have complained more about the lack of sleep and I wouldn’t have fully appreciated how freaking lucky I am to have this sweet baby in my arms.
It’s fitting that I was asked to be a judge for the Sher Institutes, “I Believe” Video Contest (click here) The winner of this contest would win a free IVF Cycle. If you have a moment, I urge you to check out some of the videos as they range from inspirational to heartbreaking to hopeful. I spent two nights just watching them all and it reminded me once again that hope can be both torturous and motivating. It also reminded me how many people's arms are still empty. I related and remembered so much of what many of the couples shared and it pained me to the core that I can't do more for them. They should be applauded for sharing their stories. If this were a fair and just world, they should also all have babies.
In these videos, you see first hand accounts of what hell so many have gone through but here they still are: ready to try again. This is why I believe that those who deal with infertility don’t get the respect they deserve. There are no promises or guarantees. There is only a whole lot of hope. Hope that this time, it could work. That's a strength worthy of deep respect.
Today, for a myriad of reason, I’m actually a little down and maybe it shows in this blog posting. My day job has been an uber bummer lately and since I'm a writer at heart (here's a piece by the way I wrote for Fertility Authority called, "Get Out of My Womb": Click here), I’ve been shopping a book around on infertility only to be told time and time again that the topic of infertility is too depressing. It kills me that there are countless books on the holocaust but somehow, the topic of trying to get pregnant is considered unworthy of a book topic. (Note: I don’t mean to compare my uterus to the holocaust but hopefully, you get my meaning).
Having my son has changed me in many ways. One of the most noteworthy is that since something so positive has entered my life, it makes all the negative less tolerable. I don’t want to spend my days doing something I don’t enjoy. I’d rather make my life more meaningful and somehow, in some way, contribute something real to the infertility world as it's become something I deeply care about. It's an issue that's dismissed, ignored, swept under the rug and often misunderstood. If I could spend my time changing that, I really would want to. I just don't know how yet. Especially when people keep telling you infertility is too sad. And here I always thought I made it funny. Well, bearable at least...
I did have a thought earlier today though that, believe it or not, ties all of this (hope, work, infertility, etc.) together. I was thinking about what I’m going to do with the rest of my life when I thought, “I don’t know if I have faith in the future, but I have faith in me.” I've thought this before and I'm always happy to remember it because it's true. Whether it’s your job, getting pregnant, your marriage or anything you’re unsure of – that is the bottom line. You need to have hope in you. No one knows how things will go but you know yourself and you have to believe that you’ll know what to do, the right path to choose, when to keep going, when to give up or what you ultimately want. Perhaps a cautious form of hope… but hope nonetheless.