The Holidays are fast approaching and with that comes the weight of a thousand memories. For me rewind four Christmas’ ago, 2014, when the stress of trying to conceive was at its height. Call this the visit from the Ghost of my Christmas Past…. we had been trying to have a baby naturally for over a year with no luck, I knew it was me. I had always known deep down that something was wrong with that part of my body. I was terrified though, and I think one of the first hard parts of a couple’s infertility journey is making that first call to the doctor. Which is why it would be almost one whole year before I did just that. Instead I found comfort in my misery and hatred in people’s comments… “just relax and it will happen”, “get drunk – that’s all it took for us,” – the countless thoughtless remarks.
I tried holistic approaches, cut out dairy, lived off ovulation tests and smiled my way through another Holiday. I moved into a time in my life which I call the “woe is me” phase. I felt sorry for myself and felt sorry for my husband. The depression surrounds you like a warm blanket and seemed to provide me a level of comfort and affirmation.
Still in my past we fast forward a bit to 2015, finally getting the courage to call a fertility specialist that fall. I would stifle back the flow of tears as these wonderful doctors, nurses, and receptionists held my hand through the most emotional experience of my life. The 2015 Holiday Season brought me news that my eggs were failing me – they were “cracked” as I call them. My specialist recommended a round of IVF on the highest dose of stims available and on Christmas Eve I gave myself my first shot of stims and was
full of hope…and hormones.
That hope was quickly replaced by apprehension as I received a call after my first ultrasound and blood work and the nurse said “we just want to make sure you are in fact taking the medicine…” – that’s right folks, even at the highest amount of medicine my body just wasn’t responding. I distinctly remember driving to work and “All I want for Christmas is you” came on. And the tears came as I belted out the words to the rendition by Mariah Carey. I really didn’t want a lot for Christmas, I just wanted my baby for my own – more than you could ever know. All I want for Christmas is you. And as my Christmas past melts away into a distant memory I can tell you, as many of you already know, that round of IVF was cancelled after the Holidays and the pain of the loss of the baby that never was ran deep.
2016 began a new chapter in my life as we reviewed our options to proceed. The Ghost of my Christmas Present is upon us. Our wonderful doctor sat me down to discuss our options which included another round of IVF but this time using testosterone (I think, its really all a blur) or egg donation.
This point in our lives was both the single hardest and happiest time, as we made the decision to proceed down the path of picking our donor I was happy beyond expression but at the same time it’s hard to put in words the grief I experienced as, in theory, I was saying goodbye to this biological part of my body. The part of my body that had failed me. I had to take some time to accept this fact and learn not to resent it.
While this was happening, we had another tragic event in our lives as my father-in- law passed away unexpectedly. My husband disappeared for a bit mentally, dealing with his own grief – a grief of another kind. Somewhere between the sadness we gathered enough strength to pick our donor and climb out of the hole of depression and misery. I had a trial cycle to confirm I could react to the drugs and countless other appointments, mandated therapy, and a slew of other things. Our donor accepted and we began to match cycles. In May my Lupron injections came and went followed by my donor’s egg retrieval which gave us 13 incredible eggs and started our new adventure.
With 11 eggs fertilized, 1 embryo transferred in June 2016 and 5 embryos’ frozen, the fog of despair was lifting and I felt like I could finally breath again. Christmas of 2016 saw me at seven months pregnant with my son, a gift that was baking away in my belly and kicking endlessly as I sang “All I want for Christmas is you”, by Mariah Carey, hanging ornaments on the tree. Fast forward to 2017 and as the Ghost of my Christmas present leaves me – we are chasing our ten-month- old around the house and I have never felt more joy in this very moment. I sit here as I type this post and wonder what the Ghost of my Christmas Future has in store for me. I think she will show me a happy family many years from now, if we are a family of three or five I am not sure. What I do know for sure, is that the strength and bravery I cultivated throughout the years have become my old friends, ones that I can lean on in good times and in bad. The memories and experiences over the last few years have shaped my future and its one that I am looking forward to experience.