I have a secret. Well, it's a not so secret, secret. I am doing IVF. I am not sure how I got to be so open about my most personal struggle but here we are. In the beginning, we were shy and only told our closest friends. It was nerve wracking always having to keep a secret but it was also scary to open up. But then we got a very large bill for thousands of dollars and we just couldn’t stay silent anymore. It was too stressful. It just spilled out. And it feels so good to let it out, speak to people about it, and not hide. And you know what? Many of these people have helped us. Many had been there too but I would have never known. So now, when people, out of curiosity, ask me when I’m having kids, I always answer, much to their shock and surprise...“I don't know but actually I am undergoing infertility treatment.”
Our diagnosis is unexplained infertility. First we tried IUIs (intrauterine inseminations – as glorious as it sounds) -- but all of those failed. Really awesome, right? I’d go into the office each time and say “okay, this one will work” and then I’d wait two weeks, get my period, and cry. To boot, I was bruised, swollen, fat, and tired. And before that we tried -- you know -- the regular way of trying to make babies. Alas, nothing…period. (pun intended). So now I’m tired. It’s hard work, exhausting, and the money I spent can never be returned. Morning after morning, I wake up at 6am to get my blood taken and get an ultrasound and take drugs to see what is going on. In the past few months, my husband has shot me up with more drugs than I could have ever imagined. I feel like a human balloon. Or a chicken. – so many eggs are being made to complete the process.
So there. My new normal is IVF. Injections, blood draws, medication, side effects. Waiting, wishing, hoping. It’s all a part of the process. And I am very open about it all. Because well—why not? But what about the superstitions? What if it doesn’t work? Okay, then it doesn’t work. It didn’t work for the first time. I cried. It was devastating. But I’m so grateful because I had all these people around me who knew what was going on. They were praying and rooting for me and checking in. And then when it failed, they were there to offer a shoulder to cry on. The pain remains but I had the support to help me get through.
Who knows what will happen next time. As long as the resources are there, I’ll try again. And again. And again. Sure, in reality, I would have liked to not tell people if I got pregnant until I got out of the red zone, but that’s not my reality – this is: I am going to maybe, hopefully, one day, get pregnant and it may be in an unconventional way but maybe I will have a beautiful life to hold at the end of all this unknown. It’s not a club I ever thought I would be in. I never thought “hey, one day I will grow up and make a baby in a lab!” But when life hands you lemons….you have to do something with them.
For me and my husband, speaking up has been so helpful. We go through life trying to numb the hard stuff that we sometimes, can end up numbing everything else in our lives. We have our secrets which push us apart from our loved ones. I found that if we can try to be open and honest, with ourselves and others, we can foster connections to help us during trying times. You may disagree. You may not want to share. But there shouldn’t be a stigma or feeling like you can’t because no one else does it. It’s okay to want to speak about it. I am. In the beginning, I blamed myself and I was ashamed. But the more I made it normal, a part of everyday life, the pain changed. It is still there but it was made tolerable by the support I had of others to help me through. And I am so thankful that I made this decision. I took a chance and opened up. And as a result, I have all the support I could ever ask for. It's not easy. It never is. But I'm grateful because to feel this vulnerable means I'm alive.
PS- she took this powerful photo herself (no wonder why she's a professional)
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