The last few weeks rocked us more than I dreamed they would. Of course, we all know heading into treatment that this may not work. However, I feel that you have to get to the best place you can mentally prior to beginning a cycle. Everyone's "best place mentally" may be different than someone elses yet it doesn't make one right and the other wrong - this whole path is so personal.
Looking back I feel that we did everything we could to ensure that this cycle could work. That it WOULD work. Last summer I joined a gym to do my part and get my body ready for IVF in January, and I was dedicated three times a week. No caffeine, started prenatals again - all months before our cycle even started. They were things that I could control. We see arguably the best RE in our area, great success rates, wonderful staff, etc. Again more things we could control.
However, when it comes down to it, I realize that there is very little about this process that we have ANY control over. The best diet, workout routine, protocol or RE can't give us any guarantee for the outcome that lies ahead of us. Don't get me wrong, I still feel these things are important, but small pieces of an ever complex puzzle.
I've spent the last few weeks digging for answers, for support. I've had dinner with friends, went back to HEAL (the support group we became a part of after our miscarriage), e-mailed an acquaintance about her IVF journey, researched online and anything else I could think of to try and clear my head of all these questions. While I haven't uncovered a miraculous nugget of truth, yet, I have gained support and direction.
At the prompting of some friends and our own thoughts, we've decided to get a second opionion from another RE. We don't have plans to switch doctors, just simply to see if he finds something we've missed. The nagging question over the last few weeks is have we been so focused on the known MFI issue that we've missed something else? According to my RE and what I can find medically, the miscarriage and the chemical pregnancy are "unrelated". But after two textbook IVF cycles, good fertilization rates with ICSI, quality embryos and smooth transfers, we're still falling on the wrong side of the statistics. I need to really know that these two things are "unrelated" before moving into an FET with our precious two embabies. We've got an appointment this coming Wednesday for a consultation with the new doctor. He also does acupuncture in his practice so maybe that's something to look into as well.
I've taken time recently to exchange e-mails with a family acquaintance who now lives in another state about their IVF journey - 6 IUI rounds, 1st IVF/ICSI transferred 2 (pregnant with twins, miscarried at 8 weeks) followed by a FET with early miscarriage/chem pregnancy. The e-mail I received back was one of the most beautiful things I've EVER read and was an amazing view of this journey. I cried reading it, and cried as I re-read it for the second and third times. There were parts of it that were hard to read. Let me share a few things that she wrote:
"During the process, I tried to be “open” to the message that this was giving me—I wondered whether it was supposed to mean that we should adopt and even discussed special needs kids given my professional background…and eventually what came to me was that I needed to learn patience and give up control over everything, trust others, have faith, accept help from others. I think the journey can teach us each the lesson WE need. Maybe your lesson is knowing when to give up or maybe it is when to persist in the face of defeat…you and Jeff can only answer that—and you may each have different answers. That doesn’t mean one is right—you’ll just have to find a way to work through it."
Wow. I don't know that I've been very open to any lessons along the way. But sometimes we can't see those lessons while we're in them, we only see them when looking back on them. Something I realized when I read this part of her e-mail:
"I can’t even name the ways in which the process changed me—it made me more appreciative of my friends, smiling strangers, it gave me a perspective on what grief and hopelessness really feels like, it makes me think twice when someone is snappy with me because I realize they might be in personal pain. I love my kids a little deeper, I know what it feels like to love a doctor for the life they have given you and even the small moments of compassion they provided when we needed it. It taught me to be an advocate for my health and my children’s health, it taught me what I really wanted in life and what I was willing to sacrifice to get it. It brought people into my life that otherwise wouldn’t have. It made me truly believe that small moments change your life—deciding for M to take a job in Cincinnati where we had IVF coverage (at a time when it was unusual and didn’t even consider it) and to Dr. A and ultimately to a world renowned high risk OB unit that allowed the trips to be born healthy…When a new acquaintance mentioned she had struggled with infertility and ultimately she directed me towards Dr. A… my best friend from HS offering to be a surrogate—something that makes me cry even now as I type it because it’s one of the most selfless gestures I have ever received. It’s not that I am glad I went through the process because it was soooooooo hard and terrifying and sad—but besides having a healthy and loving family, I also received so much more from it. Know that you are growing and stretching in a way that is necessary and good, even when it feels like you are making no forward progress. It will be years or decades maybe before you can see it with perspective, but try to appreciate the little moments of grace as they are presented to you."
I don't know if those words affected you like they did me but this whole journey is taking on a new perspective for me lately. No, I don't like it and wouldn't have chosen it. Nor do I enjoy the strain it's put on my marriage and other relationships. But I can look back and see those special people that have come into my life and heart as a result of this path.
A friend I had known for years introduced me to a friend of hers also struggling through IF. That girl, H, has since become my closest friend and confidant. She and her husband had a failed IVF #1 right before Jeff and I did our first IVF and we've shared the ups and downs of this journey side-by-side. After the miscarriage we were introduced to a group here locally called HEAL that is a parent support group for families who've experienced miscarriage, neonatal death, infant loss, etc. I never saw myself going to something like that but it has been priceless for us. S, the lady who started the group is a nurse and had a son who was still born in 1988 and has since devoted her life to supporting and educating parents and also research to prevent these losses. Through her devastation, she has reached hundreds of families to help them through their darkest days - she has truly been an angel for us, very possibly one of the best people I've ever met. Through that group, we've met several other couples that we're becoming good friends with. I think once you've shared the darkest or hardest parts of your life with someone, everything else comes so easily. Another girl I've recently met through my sister and now they are scheduled for a consultation with Dr. S (at the clinic we go to) in the next few weeks about surrogacy. I also would never have "met" such wonderful people through blogging, and I count you guys in that group of special people as well.
I'm not sure that any of this flows together the way I would like it to, but I wanted to get some of those thoughts out and share them with you. Of course I'm not saying that everything is wonderful for us right now - we still have alot of rough moments and rough days. We're not out of the woods yet. But I wanted to share what was on my mind and heart.
I've got alot of catching up to do on everyone's blogs - I feel like an awful friend for being on hiatus for so long. I'm sure I've missed alot. Stick with me as I get back into the swing of things. I'll try not to fall off the planet again.