All the Sun For You

A mom, two boys, a husband, and a whole lot of adventure!

Especially Thankful

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I’ve never been one to reflect much on what I’m thankful for on Thanksgiving because, well, I think that’s something you should do regularly and not specifically on one day.  I was always annoyed as a child and young adult when we had to go around the table to state what we were thankful for, because in my mind, the list was endless and how was I supposed to pick just a few things to focus on?  Once infertility entered our lives, I began to resent that table-talk even more as everyone would talk about how thankful they were for their multiple children, as we sat there wishing that we could have just one.  It was awful.  I think that I’ll always resent that conversation because of those 2 Thanksgivings of wishing for the opportunity to be thankful for a baby.

With that said, I do have one thing that I am especially thankful for this year.

Of course I’m thankful that we have Matthew.  I am thankful of that every single day – multiple times a day.  When he gets to be a little difficult at times (few and far between), I still always catch myself thinking, “I’m so thankful for this little boy.”  He may get away with a little too much because of this.

Of course I’m thankful for my husband.  I never thought I’d meet someone like him – and I certainly never thought someone like him would want to marry me.  I thank my lucky stars all the time for him being a permanent fixture in my life.  B has brought so many wonderful things to my life (babies, fitness, happiness, challenges, love) and I will always be thankful for him!

Of course I’m thankful for my family.  Sure, they can be crazy, but without them, I wouldn’t have my best friend (my little sister) or my big sister who has helped me navigate some of the hardest moments in our family.  My sisters keep me sane – and I am so lucky to have them.  They are the reason that we really want a sibling for Matthew, because we know how much love and fun can come from sibling relationships.

Of course I’m thankful for my pregnancy.  We had our 8w ultrasound today and all is just great!  I still can’t believe that we’re here – that it worked the first time.  I don’t think it’s sunk in yet and I find it hard to be excited  because it just doesn’t feel real.  But I’m very thankful for it.  I’m thankful that we finally had an easy road when it came to TTC.  I’m thankful that Matthew will have his own little friend in seven short months.

Of course I’m thankful for my friends – online and offline.  I love them (you) all and I know that I’ve hit the jackpot when it comes to friendships.  I have so many people I can count on for fun, support, idle chit-chat, gossip (gasp!), lunches out, and play dates for our kids.  Because of my strong, wonderful friendships, Matthew is making strong friendships already at the age of 17 months.  I could not be more thankful for this!

Of course I’m thankful for the life we live.  B and I worked very hard, together, to get to where we are and we know that individually, we would not have gotten to where we are together.  This is just a fact – we are a strong unit that makes great things happen when we work hard and focus on our goals.  I know that we are fortunate, but I also know that we’re fortunate by hard work and not by luck.  I am so thankful that we’ve made our life wonderful together!

So what I am particularly thankful for this Thanksgiving?

I’m thankful that I am done with IVF.  I am thankful that I am done doing fresh cycles.  I am thankful that I am done with the fear.

One of my latest posts talked about the cycle in which we flat-out failed.  I was surprised by the support I got in the comments not because I wasn’t expecting support, but because what we endured was just part of the deal.  It was what it was.  It was hard, but we survived it.  It still makes me sad, but it’s over and done and I’ve had a great outcome.

What makes my past failure so hard for me to think about now, though, is the many people still going through it for their first baby.  So many commenters said that they couldn’t imagine going through IVF and the truth is – they’re right.  Until you’re there, until you’re told that this is the end of the line for a biological child – you just don’t know what that’s like.

We didn’t know what it was like until it happened to us.

This is what it was like from our perspective (I just added these last two sentences because they should have been in my original post to clarify my intentions.  This is the only edited part of my original post).

Many people get to start out with clomid, natural IUI’s, medicated IUI’s, stimmed IUI’s, etc. before moving onto IVF.  We were not so lucky – our diagnosis landed us with trying one IUI as to “not waste the clomid needed for pre-IVF testing.”  After that one attempt, we were told to move straight to IVF.  We tried one more IUI because of the clomid challenge test but they wouldn’t even let us go through with it because it was a waste of time.  We went in for the IUI, and we were benched that day.  No surprise really.

So no – we didn’t get to move through the phases of IF treatment.  We went from trying naturally to being told that we had one shot at having a biological child – and that one shot was IVF (in all fairness, we were told that we would try it up to 3 times but after 3 times, there’s no point).  All of our eggs were in the IVF basket.

When we went to the RE, I thought we’d start with clomid, then IUI, etc. and I found peace in that.  There was always something else to try if the first, second thing didn’t work.  That peace was ripped away from us after a few tests, before our first IUI.  We were never just put on medication and told to go home and try.  Our diagnosis was straightforward and all we could hope for was success with IVF with ICSI.

That was it.

We were told that if it didn’t work in 3 tries, that it wouldn’t work.

Period.

Scary stuff.

After our first failure, I started to worry.  What if the next one fails and we only have one try left?  What then?

Stimming for IVF is hard.  It’s hard work for all involved, but super hard on the female partner.  Your ovaries get to be the size of grapefruits and they hurt.  In my case, I had some OHSS which was not fun – it landed me in the ER because I couldn’t breathe.  After retrieval, things got worse when I thought they’d get better.  All I wanted was to feel normal again.  And then we failed.  There was no longer “normal” in our lives.

I know that many couples are limited in IF treatments because of finances or religious reasons.  I get that.  But honestly, it’s not the same thing.  You can always try to find an IF grant (I’ve seen many gals get these), you can join an IF trial, you can take out a second mortgage on your house, you can save the money the old-fashioned way, you can borrow the money from family (if possible), you can change jobs to one that covers IF coverage (a friend of mine did this), you can move to a state where IF coverage is mandated, you can finance your IVF, you can join a shared risk program.  THERE ARE FINANCIAL OPTIONS to extend your family.

But when you do IVF – you are at the end of the biological line.  If it does not work – you are done.  You can’t wish to win the lottery to pay for more treatments, you can’t borrow the money for another type of treatment, you can’t mortgage your house for the next option.

You are done.

And that is scary stuff.  There will always be the person who can’t get to IVF because they don’t have the money – but it’s just not the same thing.

It isn’t.

I have a child now, and one on the way.  I am so far away from that fear of, “what if this does not work?”  But that fear still creeps in.  I feel it now for others.  I feel it for my online friends who are still trying for their first baby.

It makes me feel cold.

It makes me feel helpless for my friends.

It makes me sad.

And it makes me thankful that I am done with that phase of my life.

Author: Courtney

Hi, there, I’m Courtney. I never planned to stay home with my kids, but I got sucked into motherhood when my first baby came into our lives after years of infertility and multiple rounds of IVF. His brother followed closely behind, something we didn’t plan on after having such a rough road with achieving parenthood the first time around. My boys are IVF cycle twins, conceived on the same day but born two years and one day apart (they were both transferred on the same day in October, but with two years between them). My boys are the best of friends and my husband is a terrific husband, father, and most importantly… friend. He fully supported my desire to stay home (“I just wanted it to be your idea and not mine, I totally want you to stay home and raise our kids!”) and encourages me in everything I do. I am a lover of projects, spreadsheets, fitness, healthy cooking and eating, crafts, selling my stuff on FB (HA!), and the outdoors. If I’m active, I’m pretty darn happy!

23 thoughts on “Especially Thankful

  1. IVF is a challenging treatment. I, unlike you, was assured IUI would be all I would need. After 5 failed IUI’s we moved on to the dreaded IVF. And we got lu
    cky. It worked on the first try. But now, we’re in that should we do another fresh cycle before we use up my “young” embryos? limbo. I so wish I was done, but after having a failed FET with a picture perfect cycle, I really don’t know where we’re going. I’m over the moon excited for you that you NEVER have to do IVF again. And it breaks my heart when I know so many people who are still trying for their first baby and IVF looms over their heads. You are very lucky to be done…it is a good thing to be thankful for this week and ALL YEAR ROUND!!!

    And you’re right, when you’ve done your 3 rounds, most RE’s throw in the towel and most people are out of $$$. Being told you’re done is different than not being able to afford it. Yeah, it costs a fortune, but most clinics find a way to help couples afford it. I know I donated probably $3000 worth of meds and supplies after Raegan was born. (yes I held on to it until she was alive and kicking in my arms, a little paranoid? yeah, try a lot paranoid). There are ways. But being told you’re done…is definite. Over, The End of biological children. (unless they choose surrogacy)

    Happy Thankgsgiving!!!

    • That’s Thanksgiving….had a little help typing the last line….Raegan says Hi!

    • I understand how you’re feeling. We went into the RE with questions about this FET and what we would do if it failed. They wanted to move to a fresh cycle but I said no – that I’d like to do another FET. They went with it. There’s just something about going back to stims, not knowing what’s going to come of it (emotionally, hormonally, financially, successfully). I hate that uncertainty and it hit me just the other day that that is over for me – and I felt so much relief.

      I’m glad you pointed out that most clinics help people find a way to cover the costs. That is so true. And so many people, like you, donate their meds when they’re done and that’s terrific! There are so many ways to make it work. I’m not saying that’s always easy to do, but it’s amazing how many people out there are willing to help. B and I have talked about the future and if we have money we don’t need, that we’d like to pay for an IVF cycle for someone else whenever we can – just to pay it forward and make things possible that may not be possible without it. We’re not in that position yet (and may never be), but we hope to be some day. Even if we could just cover the cost of someone’s meds, that would help. I understand why you held onto the drugs. I held onto mine until 2 months before expiration!

      Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

  2. Great post. You’re so lucky to be done! And I’m so happy for you. I feel incredibly lucky too, that IVF worked for us on the first try. I totally hear you on this sentiment: Being told that IVF with ICSI is your only option (no Clomid, no IUI, nothing) is terrifying. It feels so final. We had just started, and yet we were somehow already at the end of the road. It was a gut-wrenching, all-consuming fear, that thankfully went away quickly when we got our BFP. But every once in awhile I realize that when we want another baby, we’re going to have to go through it all over again. I’m not really a normal pregnant person like all the girls that I now get to commiserate with at work. I am pregnant; we achieved our goal, but it came at high-stakes. And when we’re ready for another, it’s back to square one. And that scares me. But at least I know it’s worked before, and hopefully I can get as lucky as I did the first time. I definitely have this to be thankful for this year.
    Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

    • Yes! You had just started but were already at the end of the road. It’s terrifying. I so wish we could have eased into it with other things to try – but then again – if those things were going to work for us, it was probably best to just jump to the final option.

      Going for baby #2 is different – but the same. You know? We had to decide our plan of attack and we were fortunate to have some frozen embryos, but I’m 36 and the docs wanted to do another fresh cycle if the first FET failed simply due to my age. That put the fear right back in me. It’s a scary thing to have to start again, but it’s also a bit easier because you know it’s worked before, and you can’t help but think it will work again. Naive… I know. But I figured we’d get there somehow, some way.

      I think it’s interesting that you’re already thinking about #2. I was the exact same way. The thought of going back to square 1 was awful, but I couldn’t help but think about it. As we walked out yesterday, I told the nurses we’d see them in two years to use up the rest of our frozen embryos. I’m already thinking forward. B is not 😉

      Happy Thanksgiving to you 🙂

  3. Hooray for being DONE with treatments! That’s amazing. And for a great outcome on your latest scan.

    • Thanks! It’s a huge relief to be done stimming. We will still, likely, go back to do an FET for baby #3 because I don’t want to leave those embryos without a chance at life – but to know we’re done stimming and worrying about that outcome is so wonderful.

      I’ve been thinking of you and see that you posted today. I am about to read it… but know that I think of you every single day, wishing great things for you!

  4. What a great, powerful post. As you mentioned in this post that others have said, I can’t imagine going through what you did with IVF and knowing that was the final option. I was one of the lucky IFers who had the options explained, learned about them, researched them, feared them, prepared for them but luckily never had to go that far with Clomid doing the trick. I have a friend right now who is preparing for IVF #3 and my heart breaks for her and everyone else who ever has to get to that point. I am so thankful for you that you are done.

    • You and I are cut from the same cloth, Fiona! Like you, I researched EVERYTHING that may happen so that I was prepared for the next step. I insisted on being 2 steps ahead in my mind and preparation. We (I) even had an adoption agency and attorney contacted and ready to go in case we ended up having to go that route. Knowledge is power? Maybe. But I think knowledge FEELS like control in situations like these, even when it isn’t. 😉

      I will pray for your friend. I’m not normally the praying type, but I know that sometimes you just need and want those prayers (if you know it or not). If you feel comfortable sharing this with her – please do: I have a friend who did 3 rounds and got Baby #1 after that third round. She then went on to have Baby #2 (just this morning!!!!) after 1 IVF and 1 FET. We all get to decide when we’re at the end of the road – even if our docs think we should be sooner than we’re ready. I pray that your friend continues as long as she feels the need and desire to do so!

      Happy tropical Thanksgiving 😉

  5. We do have so much to be thankful for! What an awesome feeling it must be for you to be able to be done with the TTC part of your life. You can focus on raising beautiful kids, being a mom, and wife! I can’t wait to put TTC behind me. I think I’ll always remember the emotional/physical stress TTC caused, but knowing I did get my babies in the end will always make it all worth it. Happy Thanksgiving to you guys!

    • I’m like you – the memories of the pain are hard at times, but having my babies makes it all worth it! I feel like I’m really, REALLY getting close to having the pain behind me… closer and closer every day!

      Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

  6. At first, I wasn’t going to respond, but I have too much respect for you to not try to talk with you about this. I think it’s an important conversation to have, not just for me and you but also for others.

    I’ll never know what IVF is like, and I’m awed by the things you women who go through it put your bodies through. These days, I’m extremely grateful that we didn’t have to go there. There was a time, however, when I could only wish it was an option. My husband is completely opposed to ART on philosophical grounds and was afraid to adopt because he doubted his ability to parent a child not biologically his. For that reason, IVF, and even IUIs, were out of the question for us as a couple. You can raise all sorts of questions about the suitability of our marriage, about him, or even about me, but you can’t ask or suggest anything that I didn’t think myself. After my miscarriage, when the pregnancy I’d hardly dared hope for given the two diagnoses I’d already racked up ended, I went into a tailspin. I had crippling anxiety that even medication failed to fully dissipate. In that state, I contemplated what were then two very real possibilities for me: living childfree or having to leave my husband to open up the possibility of children.

    I tell you this not to argue that my experience was worse, or even as bad, as yours. I’d probably be the first person to agree with your assessment that my experience was not as bad as it gets. Not by a long shot. In fact, my experience with IF and loss was not even the worst thing I’ve ever had to deal with. I tell you this simply to suggest that experiences with these things are not always directly comparable. I honor the strength of your marriage and your own mental health, but I’m quite sure you can relate to my experience using only your powers of imagination and empathy, just as that’s the only way I can related to your experience.

    After my brother died, I participated in a support group for survivors of suicide. In that group, I found it notable that many people felt the need to assert that surviving suicide was much worse than surviving other types of loss. Maybe it is. It’s certainly the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. But how can you measure these things when so many variables are involved? My sister was diagnosed with PTSD after my brother died. I was not. Does that mean her experience was worse than mine? I don’t know. How could we ever know? The comparing has a purpose; it’s a way of validating and recognizing how overwhelming and all-encompassing your experience is in the face of general lack of understanding. But it’s purpose is only personal, there’s no societal value in telling someone that their daughter’s stillbirth isn’t as significant as the suicide of a teenage daughter, as one of the people in my support group did.

    I can’t say enough how much I recognize that I’m no spokeswoman for IF and loss. I do my best to try to hear others’ experiences, and I’m grateful that so many people have accepted me for who I am and where I am, especially these last few weeks. I include you in that. I wouldn’t want to say you shouldn’t compare, because it’s clearly something you need to do. It’s just that I’m sure there are other people out there who feel stung, maybe more than a little.

    • I never said my experience was worse. I am just saying that when you’re at the end of the line for BIOLOGICAL reasons, it’s different. That’s all I’m saying. This is my post about what I’m thankful for. I appreciate your own struggles, but I don’t necessarily appreciate the tone given this is my post of thankfulness, and appreciation for what others are still going through.

  7. I posted some of my draft posts today over the last several weeks, and in it was the same message – thankful to be done with IF and ‘hopefully’ put all the negative emotions behind me. You are one very blessed lady, my friend, lots to be thankful for. But I am certainly glad that you are DONE with IVF!!!! Wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!!

    • I can’t wait to read them! Going there after I read Mellow’s post!

      You are blessed too!

      Do you know what makes me feel extra blessed? Knowing people like you 🙂

  8. That’s exactly what I’m thinking right now, after my meeting with my RE yesterday. I’ve always had the thought of more tries ahead. I know I have two tries left for sure…if my first IVF doesn’t work, I’m not sure (given my age) that another IVF is a reasonable option. After that I might be done. It’s such a feeling of finality. It’s frightening.

    I’m so glad your ultrasound was good today!

    • I have high hopes for you! You got pregnant with Finn with an IUI at 37 or 38, is that right? My friend just had her second baby today from IVF and she turned 40 over the weekend. If you’ve had success in the past, your odds are high with IVF. I am going to hold out all of my hope for you for your next IUI, but also for what may come in the future. You’ll get there again!

      Thank you!

  9. So much to be thankful for! I am so thankful that our first IVF worked and that I have a peace about just being a family of 3. I don’t know what we would have done if it hadn’t worked and really I don’t let my mind go there. I just say “thank you God” and “I’ll keep him, thanks.” :] Appreciate this post and you sharing your heart and thanksgivings! This community is the best!

  10. I think this is a really fabulous post and a reminder that we can find something to be thankful for always. Of course the “easy” thing to be thankful for is your child(ren!!) but there is also so much to be said for just being glad to be done. In so many ways infertility and its treatments are all-encompassing and it’s so difficult to not let them impact daily life. They are game-changers. And now, for you, they aren’t. They are something that you really can put behind you. Obviously they will never be forgotten but they will hopefully stop being something flitting around there in the back of your mind, even on the good days, you know? I think that’s where this feeling of thankfulness comes from – from the relief about getting through to the other side, about being able to close the door on that chapter of your life.

    (Am I rambling? I feel like I am.)

    Anyway, I am so happy for you, friend, that you are done with IVF. That is a wonderful place to be.

    • Thank you! We will embark on this again, most likely, when we go back in a couple years to give some more embryos a chance, but it will be different. A third child would be gravy for us – icing on the cake – the cherry on our sundae. We never had a goal of having three children but now it could be a reality. But – if it doesn’t work out – we are still done. I am NEVER stimming again. NEVER. That feels so good to say!

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