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.
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.
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.