Fertility Journey : A year later...

I feel sad that I don't post more on here. I'm always looking for some kind of concise thought or how I really feel about things and I can never hold on to it long enough to actually get it into squarespace.  There is so much I feel from one week to the next. I don't know how to hit publish anymore. I have so many entries that exist only in my paper journal and not publicly. I hope I start sharing again, I hope I share this.

My wonderful and brave friend “A” posted this on Facebook last week.

It’s was a  graphic from @livandhopetothemax
What NOT to say to someone who’s trying to get pregant.
At least you don’t have stretch marks!
I’m so sorry, this is what women were meant to do.
You just have to be patient.
Why don’t you just adopt, that the easy way!
Have you tried … that worked for my SIL neighbor’s cousin.
It will all work out, I know it!!!
You should adopt and then you will get pregnagnt.
We have been trying for a month, so I know exactly how you feel.
Trust me, you’re so lucky you don’t have kids, enjoy your free time.
Be so glad you arent’ pregnant.
But you already have a child, isn’t that enough?
Who’s fault is it that you can’t get pregnant?
If you would relax I bet it would happen

This was her post…..

I have heard almost every line on this list (some from good friends and some from even our own family). Of course people that say these things mean well but unless you have experienced #infertility firsthand or had a close friend or family member you don’t really understand. And people’s words can unintentionally cause a lot of pain when you are struggling to grow your family. Infertility is a MEDICAL condition. Have you ever told someone with Diabetes to “relax and I’m sure it will cure itself”? The causes for a couples inability to conceive or keep a pregnancy are varied and can be complicated. In some cases couples experience “unexplained infertility” where the Doctors can’t explain the reason they cannot get or stay pregnant. And just like other medical conditions there are treatments but being “cured” is never a guarantee. I can personally say that the experience has tested me physically, emotionally and spiritually. Despite the pain I am so much stronger than I ever thought before. It has made me a better mother and person. I wanted to share this since it is #infertilityawareness week. I decided to be open about our story trying for Stella and now for baby #2 (not for sympathy) but in the hopes that it will help another couple going through this to not feel alone. In fact 1 in 8 couples will experience infertility. #niaw #ivf #ivfjourney #infertilitysucks#ivfsupport #ivfwarrior

A’s post put things into a perspective I’ve never been able to articulate.  I also never knew there was an infertility week. I never even thought to use the word infertility. We called it our trials our IVF Journey or our trying-to-start-a-family Journey

Infertility in·fer·til·i·ty

/ˌinfərˈtilədē/

noun

  1. inability to conceive children or young.

I believe so strongly in the power of words. I would never have considered applying this label to Mike and I. Clearly it's true and the shoe fits but it sounds hopeless and final. But now I'm in a space that feels final. I turn 44 next month, so I guess that's pretty final. Infertility. Wow.

My friend A recently went to Prague for IVF.  She asked me for my thoughts before she left she ended up getting a cold and we didn't get to have coffee while she was in town. But I agonized over what to say to her. We even have an episode on Our Creative Uprising where I try to understand how to even give someone my two cents.

  1. I don't want to say IVF was a terrible experience for us because I don't want to tell someone who has had so much disappointment already that it was awful for me

  2. It may not be awful for them.  They might get pregnant and have a baby. I wouldn’t want to discourage them to not try.

  3. If their experience turns out to be anything like mine, I couldn't handle the guilt of not telling them how excruciatingly awful the effects were for me. I would never wish anyone the trauma that my body and psyche endured.

Some stories do end well.  The implementation was successful for A and yesterday the blood test came back positive. I didn't realize I was holding my breath or how scared I had become until the text said “positive”. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Oh my god thank you. Please let everything go as good as it can.  Please let A be safe and supported” I prayed to the universe. “Thank you” I audibly exhaled.

That's the thing about advice, I feel so confused and unqualified. I don't really understand how common my reaction to IVF was. At the clinic the nurse said I may experience pms-like symptoms and I may be a little weepy. That's not what happened though. I ended up in a therapist office off being treated for PTSD. I ended up in what seemed like every therapist - healers office fighting for my identity, my mental health and my sanity. I know that the IRS lists therapy as a line item for IVF.   The IRS isn't exactly a feel-good generous benefactor. I have to assume that my experience is somewhat common. So here I am so far out of my depths asking myself

how do you hold the idea of IVF, PTSD, financial devastation, emotional devastation

against the possibility of a baby?

Have you ever had a baby wrap its full hand around your one finger? I think all of my fears become moot when compared to that feeling.  Who cares how bad your experience is if you get a baby? Not many I guess.

Who cares how awful it is if you don't.  The experience of having someone I care about ask me for advice made me realize that I care. I care about the cost of IVF to my mind, body and spirit. My gut kept telling me

‘tell her to avoid the risk”  and “don't let her get hurt the way that you did”.

I only had fear to offer. A year later it's still too much for me to ask my gut to have hope. My gut is still a little tired and a lot heartbroken.   I ask it to be brave and try some other way for us to have a family and there is no answer. It won't show up. It won't even acknowledge that I'm asking the question. It's worse than a no it's silence.

Maybe it will just take me a little longer to have some perspective or hope.  I'm so eternally grateful that A got a cold I'm so grateful that she took the risk and that it's paying off. I never ever wanted to be that voice of doubt in someone's ear. I hope that everyone in this world goes after their dreams in whatever way works for them. I am made to cheer people on. It's one of the most authentic aspects of my personality. Although I no longer know how to be the brave cavalier risk taker I used to be. I do know how to give this advice.

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Make peace with your fertility journey.  
Learn to really love yourself regardless of what the pregnancy stick says.
See a therapist or find some support.
Process every emotion you can and find every way to take care of yourself.
Make your choices from a place of love and being enough.
Find a way to be okay regardless of the outcome .

I wish everyone a way to make peace with their journey.

Big Hugs Suzanne



Fertility Vacation 3.0 // staying strong & finding moments of happiness

What is it like to not give up?  Sigh, exhale. 

Today it looks like getting up early, instant coffee, meditation, 3 minutes of yoga and writing in this journal and not wanting to know what's in my mind.  Today we will walk around Vienna and photograph this vibrant city.  We are even taking an airbnb photography tour.  It's confusing.  Is should be a highlight of the year.  I love Vienna.  Vienna is a dream of mine.  I should feel incredibly blessed and grateful to the travel gods.  I am and I'm not.  It is wonderful and it isn't.  Some moments I can forget and some moments I'm terrified.  So for a few minutes I try to drop in, feel it, and hope I can shake it off.

What I want to feel.

I'm exactly where I should be.  The universe is unfolding in my favor.  I am lucky to have someone who would fight this hard with me.  This could be the most beautiful journey we ever walk on.  This could change our lives.  Being strong now could lead to magic.  We could add another Ofeldt to our home.  Wow nothing seems worth more.  

and I do feel that way.

I also feel this way.

I'm cold.  I'm hungry.  This airbnb only has one chair and no hair dryer.  I keep ordering the wrong thing.  Mike and I are tired and bickering.  I hate being home at 8pm for shots.  I hate injecting my body with hormones.  What if we aren't able to retrieve any eggs this time?  What if we can't make any embryos?  What if I put myself through all of this anguish because I'm too greedy at this game of life?  What if I can't accept a clear no from the universe.?

So enough.  I think I need to accept that it's ok if we don't create perfect embryos this time.  I will heal, I will let go, I will find another path.  I need failure to be an option I can live with.  I need it to not matter.  I feel like it's the only way to take my best shot, cut out the noise in my head and be peaceful.  I know that peaceful is a place we can move forward from.  A peaceful knowing that our family is steady, stable and strong.  We have time to make our way to each other.

So today we will walk around on this finally sunny day and take pictures.  We will find moments of happiness in between our moments of doubt and that will be our best effort.

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Hard Truths

This time last year we were in Prague attempting IVF for the first time. What an extraordinary year. Nothing could have prepared me for any of this, and I am so grateful. Although I’m crazy proud of how Mike and I sailed the storm, if I could go back now, I wouldn’t have chosen this path. That is such a hard truth to admit to myself.

I’ve never considered myself someone who backs away from a challenge, but out of sheer love for the Suzanne I used to be, I would say no to putting her through that. It’s too much and ultimately I feel sorry that I hurt her. But life isn’t 20/20, and there was no way I could have talked myself out of it. So, instead I’m left with pride, gratitude, and the most creative 12 months of my life. Like everything in my life I find what I truly feel in the words of a song.

There’s a song by Alanis Morissette, “Thank You”. She has a rampage of appreciation and thanks to the good and the bad. I remember hearing it in the 90’s and thinking, how powerful would I be, if I could thank the experiences that hurt me as well as the ones that made me feel blessed?

Now, I understand the power I wanted to feel all those years ago. Since I can’t go back in time, and safeguard my heart and mind, I will thank this year for sculpting me into a much better version of myself.

Thank you, IVF 1 and IVF 2. Thank you, brave and fearless girl who wants to be a mom. Thank you, strong and compassionate woman for rising to the occasion. Thank you, childish ways for burning the house down. Thank you, new version of me who said, “Enough. Get off the floor.” Thank you, broken mind and hopelessness. Thank you, to the hours I spent on my knees crying and praying to I don’t know who.

Thank you, photographer friends for picking me up and reminding me what feeling supported by the universe looks like.

Thank you, for the unfolding that I have autism. Thank you, for the knowing that it will add to my understanding of myself and my creativity.

Thank you, Prague for giving us a safe haven where IVF is more affordable. Thank you, PTSD for showing me what I can overcome and that my mind and spirit are separate. Thank you, failure for letting me know how proud I am that I tried.

Thank you, to all the self doubt and confusion, because it allowed me to lean on Mike and trust him in a way I probably would have never figured out. Thank you, needing help and to my friends who checked in so regularly just to make sure I was as ok as I could be. Thank you, to Vanessa and Jen Morrison for never asking me to be happier than I could be.

Thank you, to credit card debt. Thank you, that so many people we love can’t relate to this experience at all, because I certainly wouldn’t want them to. Thank you, to heartbreak and fear. Thank you, to all the people who know what we are going through - who fight their good fight, and have shown us the way - we are following your light.

Lately, I see the last year in a different way. Somehow. I have some perspective. I have received so many gifts . . .

I am insanely creative. Photographing gives me a high that’s greater than it’s ever been before. Weddings make me feel down right euphoric.

I get along with Mike in a whole new way. I’m more accepting of who he is. I am capable of giving him more space to find his own way.

I can relate to people in so many more ways. I can see deeper into them.

I find power in gratitude and always focused on the good. Without knowing it I adopted Jess Lively’s mantra of “Yes, thank you and More, please”, to all good experiences. Yes to amazing friends. Yes to creative  jobs. Yes to paying rent, and buying groceries. Yes to art. Yes to love.

I love myself in a way I’ve never known. I’m learning to be enough for myself. I’ve learned to play outside my comfort zone. I am excited for how expansive I’m becoming. I know I can go to hell and eventually find my way back to myself. Back to feeling stable, steady, and strong.I am becoming a more beautiful version of myself.

I can add more peace to the world by speaking to myself in a more compassionate voice. I am capable of learning so much. I am meant to be an artist. I can make art even when I can't find myself. I feel powerful that I am connected to all of the other artists in the world even when I can't quite find Suzanne.

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Good bye 2017. Thank you.

Good bye 2017.

Thank you.

Thank you for making us stronger.

Thank you for giving us 10 eggs and 4 excellent embryos.

Thank you for two chances at IVF.

Thank you for gratitude, getting up, and finding ourselves again.

I hope that we have the guts to go after 2018 the way that we threw ourselves at 2017.  I hope our family grows.

I hope I find the same joy and comfort in watching Mike sleep.  I hope we find time for each other as the pressure to figure things out seems to speed up time.  I hope we find less to argue about and more beautiful discoveries to share.

I hope IVF 3 works.  I hope there will be eggs, embryos, conception, safe passage and one day a baby.  A healthy safe baby.  And if none of those things can happen, I hope the hormones fly out of me and leave me safe and sound.  I hope I can digest healthy food easily and take pleasure in moving my body.  I hope I photograph, paint, swim in the ocean, feel my heart beat and gasp for air as a wave crashes over my head.  I hope I heal and get out of the house and find some safe space out in the world and not hiding in the house.  I hope after some time I recoup my energy and start on some other path.  I hope there’s always enough of me left to try again.