A couple weeks I stumbled onto a picture that I had tucked away inside my dresser. At the time I tucked it away, it was the intent that I would someday look back at it and think, “Wow. I can’t believe how far I’ve come since then.” As it happened, that day I was busy looking for something else and I pulled the picture out and put it on top of my dresser (actually, on my mirror) and then went about my business.It wasn’t until yesterday when I was talking to a newly acquired friend, about my recent find that it hit me as to what the picture actually was. The picture I found happened to be the picture of my “would-be babies,” the embryos that were implanted into my womb during my one attempt at in vitro fertilization (IVF). As I was telling my friend about the snapshot, I felt myself begin to cry yet once again.
I relived that period of my life yesterday afternoon as I told her my story and my struggle. She’s heard bits and pieces about it before, but never to the extent as I did yesterday. She had previously heard about the treatment I went through, all leading up to the IVF cycle. And she certainly heard about all the wonderful medications I had to inject into myself each month and especially during the IVF cycle month. But what she never heard (nor anyone else for that matter) was how emotionally spent I was after each monthly disappointment… especially after the failed IVF cycle.
What I had told my friend is that when I looked at that picture, it reminded me of how different a person I was since that period of time. And even how much more different a person I was since starting my infertility journey ten years prior.
Ten years ago, I saw myself as a pretty optimistic person. A “glass is half-full” type of person. If pregnancy didn’t happen, then it just wasn’t meant to be just yet. Almost a year later, I began to become cautiously optimistic. And by the time I had my first hysteroscope, my mindset was of “let’s just get the task done.” At my lowest “pre-IVF” point, I was definitely very pessimistic about any chance of ever getting pregnant. By that time I had already had done enough ovulation charting, had more than enough Clomid cycles followed by even stronger injectable medication cycles, and had enough surgeries to last me a lifetime. It was at that time I became a”glass is half-empty” person.
So when Hubby and I finally decided to try the IVF route, I knew I had to change my attitude. And although I knew that IVF was never a guarantee that I’d be able to get pregnant, I had to think positive. In fact, I couldn’t just think positive, I had to put every effort into making sure that I was going to be successful at becoming pregnant. It was actually not as hard as I thought, especially with all the hormones I was pumping into me. I knew then that if I had even a shred of doubt, I would fall deep into the abyss of pessimism.
So imagine how far I fell once I found out my IVF cycle was unsuccessful. I certainly did plunge deep into that deep pit of despair. There was the initial shock and disappointment, followed closely by hysterics for the next couple weeks. Anything at that time set me off into waves of sadness and tears. A year after the failed IVF attempt, when we made the decision to let our one frozen blastocyte “go,” it was like reliving all the emotions of the year prior.* And in that moment, I knew I would never be able to go through another IVF attempt. It was just too emotionally and physically painful for me to ever have to go through again.
After a period of time, I just became “numb.” Crying seemed to be useless, and to tell you the truth, very humiliating. After all, in my culture, crying is only appropriate for a set amount of time. After that, crying is just considered a sign of weakness as we are taught to quickly “get over” our loss and “move on” right away. So after awhile, I learned to stifle my pain and pretend as if nothing was wrong. I pretended to be “over” the failed IVF attempt and let people believe that I was just content with my current situation. I also let others believe that eventually my Hubby & I would be working towards adoption. And truthfully, I tried to convince myself of that for the next three years.
However, as the past three years went by, I unconsciously knew that something was missing. By all standards, I looked like I was okay, but inside I felt miserable. I probably would have continued to go on feeling like this if it wasn’t for the news that we received a year ago next month. That news was of my sister-in-law’s pregnancy. And well, if you’ve read my previous posts (not to mention the most recent posts of Liam’s life), you’d know that I didn’t handle the news very well. As of recently, I’d like to think I managed the most recent events rather decently, but it’s only after I spent this last year talking (and subsequently blogging) about the gamut of emotions I’ve been through.
So where am I at now? Well, obviously I’ve been crying a lot lately (cultural behavior be damned!). In fact, I think I’ve cried more this past year than I did over the last ten years, since I started this crazy infertility journey. I know for a fact that all the events that have transpired over the past year is responsible for the river of tears (not to mention the trails of tissue paper) that follow behind me. And while it’s been a terribly difficult year, I do have to admit I feel I’ve grown a little more emotionally stronger from it. I would think that just by being able to post my “baby picture” shows that I am. (At least I hope so).
Wow. I can’t believe how far I’ve come since then.
* For a quick overview of our IVF history, we had 13 eggs retrieved, 8 of which were fertilized using ICSI, 3 of which “matured” enough, 2 of which were implanted in me. The lonely one that was left was frozen for the possibility of later doing a “frozen cycle.” What we didn’t expect was that we’d only have one blastocyte mature out of the 13 eggs that were originally retrieved. As there isn’t much success rate in doing a “frozen cycle,” let alone with only one blastocyte, Hubby & I elected not to proceed with that next step.