PUPO

One year ago today, we got to see our babies for the first time.

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Not many people are lucky enough to have the chance to see their babies this early. We joked about how we’d show this picture to all their friends when they grew up. How they would decide which one was them. How they would know how much we wanted them.

LB held my hand while I laid on the table and stared at the picture of our babies. I cried to the sound of Smokey Robinson singing “I Second that Emotion ” coming from the small radio in the corner. I smiled when my doctor squeezed my hand and told me good luck.

We were PUPO- pregnant until proven otherwise.

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Embryos on board, sunshine on skin, more in love than ever before, parents.

This is the anniversary of our parenthood.

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common ground & peter pan

Four years ago today, my aunt lost her son.

It was unexpected.

I flew home immediately. I remember picking out his flowers. I remember placing a Peter Pan book in his casket, his sister falling apart as she walked into the funeral home, and choking through tears reading this poem at his funeral:

Longing For One More Day

“When we lose someone we love it seems that time stands still. What moves through us is a silence… a quiet sadness… A longing for one more day… one more word… one more touch… We may not understand why you left this earth so soon, or why you left before we were ready to say good-bye, but little by little, we begin to remember not just that you died, but that you lived. And that your life gave us memories too beautiful to forget. We will see you again some day, in a heavenly place where there is no parting. A place where there are no words that mean good-bye. ”

The only thing I can do for my aunt is tell her that I remember his beautiful life. I only held my son for minutes. She held him for 26 years. I cannot imagine the amplitude of her pain. She finds grace in dark places that only grief and sadness know.

I hate to share this common ground with her– we’re undeserving. But in her I see that life beyond this grief is different, but possible– and for that I am thankful she is my teacher.

Second star to the right and straight ahead till morning, Johnny. I love you. I miss you. I remember you.

happy birthday blastocysts :)

One year ago today, I woke up on my 29th birthday in a hospital room at Yale-New Haven. My husband spent a rough night on the couch in my room and I was recovering from internal bleeding following my egg retrieval.

All of that sounds like an awful way to spend a birthday. But it wasn’t. It was the day our embryos, our babies, were created. I woke up to a phone call from our embryologist. We had 14 of 15 eggs fertilized. 7 by ICSI and 7 by IVF. 14 panda pups in a petri dish. This was the closest to being pregnant we had ever been. It was the best birthday I can remember.

You guys know the rest of the story.

Today is my 30th birthday. I didn’t wake up with my baby this morning. Well, I suppose he is here with me today. But he’s not here in the way I want him to be–but you all know this.

I did wake up to a full house this morning. My awesome parents are here. My Duffy is here from Wisconsin. My puppy gave me birthday kisses. We ate french toast this morning, we painted nails, we laughed, we bopped, I smiled. I woke up to messages from two people I have never met offering to help me fundraise. My heart is full, but there’s a corner empty for Dziko.

It’s been such a different year than I imagined or hoped it would be.

But I have a better outlook on life than I ever thought I’d be able to have again.

I realize this is a recurrent theme as of late, but thank. you. all. Thank you for allowing me to blog and let the weight of these emotions off of my shoulders. Thank you for helping, giving, sharing and being. I only hope that the universe gives you back one thousand fold what you’ve given to me because you deserve it.

My husband and I drove to the airport last night to pick up Duffy, and we sang at the top of our lungs to this.

Cheers to our past, and may it be the sound of our feet upon the ground. Forward march. ❤

the feeling of being

I think a lot of times we are fearful of our emotions. They’re so out of our control. We can’t control when we feel them, how long we feel them or their intensity.

Infertility is a head-on collision of emotions. Everyday life is a trigger. Each piece of our marriages and relationships are touched by infertility. Wondering if your husband noticed the little boy wearing a matching football jersey to his father’s and if his heart strings tugged a bit. Anticipating pregnancy announcements on social media sites and wondering whether or not your happiness for your friends will outweigh your sadness.  There isn’t a single thing I can think of that doesn’t somehow remind me of the thing we long to have.

I have found great solace in feeling. Feeling reminds me how bad I want it. It reminds me to not take my husband for granted because I am reminded everyday how badly I want to live with and love him forever. I am reminded how happy I am to have my sister close because I want her to teach my child all kinds of crunchy granola things (except the love of patchouli- please universe, let her leave this part out). I am reminded how desperately I wish to get back to my Midwestern roots because I had a childhood so great that I can’t imagine not sharing all those things with a child. I am reminded that my parents won’t be here forever and that I want more than anything for them to feel the love of their grandchild and to spoil that child rotten, much like they’ve done to their granddog and grandcats. And I am so often reminded of all the amazing aunts and uncles our child will have because my friends are so amazing they are like family to us and will always be honored as such.

I remember a few years ago, before our journey into the world of family creation, I read the blog of a woman who was pregnant with a child with a genetic condition that would not allow the baby to survive outside of her womb. And she wrote so beautifully of how, on the day of her induction, the day her baby was going to die, that she was awoken by the movings of her child inside of her. The kicks, the pokes, the stretches. She wanted sleep. She didn’t want to wake up for that day. She wasn’t ready to say goodbye. But she sat. And she felt.

She felt each one of those kicks, she welcomed more of those pokes, and she rubbed each part of her belly as her baby stretched. It was going to be over but she was going to remember how her baby felt. And she sat in those emotions–sour and bittersweet, but she felt them.

The infertility community is forced to feel. Even in the inopportune moments of real life. When we don’t want to. When we can’t shut our minds off. When we force a smile through a situation that makes us want to pull the covers over our heads.

I will not tell my infertile friends to ever think positive- for that is much harder than you can imagine. I will not tell my infertile friends that modern medicine will fix things- it might not. I will not tell my beautiful friends that they will find a rainbow- not every one is allowed a happy ending. I will not tell them to be patient. They are justified in feelings those things.

What I will tell them is that sometimes a cry feels good. I will tell them that in the tears there is relief. I will tell them that luck does not belong to us but that there is grace in our journey. That we will love harder than most. And that feeling grounds you. It helps you remember each crack in the sidewalk, each helping hand, every moment that meant something.

You will feel loved by those who supported you and those who continued to support you even if they got a rainbow–especially the ones who remembered what advice and happy stories felt like on the darker side of that rainbow. Those are the ones worth spending feelings on. Feel love. Feel sadness. Feel dispair. It’s yours to feel. You are right to feel them and it is okay to stall over them– it is okay. Remember to let someone else help you feel them if their weight is too much for you. They are there. We are here.

we’re not broken, just bent

Every single time this song comes on, I can feel it reaching into my bones.

Every single day I am reminded that my husband and I are struggling with something that is so profoundly life changing and out of our grasp that the only thing we can do is hang on until things fall in place.

Hanging on to one another during this process is so … abstract. We don’t know how. We have been married for 5 years. We have struggled with infertility for 4 years. Infertility is our normal. Disappointment is our normal. Roller coasters of hope are our normal. Grief, dreamless and indecision are our normal.

But we know that we can find a new normal.

We’re not destroyed, we’re just a little damaged. Just a little bent. And we can be fixed.

We have come to the fork in the road of decision and we have chosen a path. We are going to carry every. single. thing that brought us to this path with us. Our friends, my community of infertility support, our family and our son. It sounds like a lot of luggage, right? But we need it all. Because when we get to the end of our road and we are finally a family of four, we need all of those things to make our family feel at home. Each one of these people helped carry us a step along this path and our family belongs to them.

National Infertility Week Awareness is an opportunity to share our story with others so that they might get a glimpse into our journey. So that perhaps one more person realizes that being vocal about this isn’t as scary as it seems. Or even that the person who remains silent on their journey feels comforted by the words here because they echo the thoughts they live with each day.

But even more than that, National Infertility Awareness week is an opportunity for me to be thankful for the friends we have surrounded ourselves with. People we’ve never met,  people I went to high school with and haven’t seen in 10 years, people we see once a year, people we see a handful of times a year and people we see everyday– we love you. You belong to our family. You have helped us grieve. You have helped us live. You have helped us find love. We are forever grateful to you and your support.  Because of you, we can learn to love again. You’ve made it possible and you’ve given us a reason.

Thank You.

a dedication to the infertile

Things that are really hard with a baby:
-middle of the night feedings
diaper blowouts
-getting the minimum required hours of sleep for a functioning human
-eating with one hand
-running out of crib sheets in the middle of the night
-leaving the house
-going to the bathroom alone

Things that are really hard when you can’t have a baby:
-every season’s family-focused holiday celebrations and traditions
-every failed cycle
-every public encounter of a pregnant woman & families
-marriage
-everyday

Each infertile woman reasonably understands that raising children is difficult, for a variety of reasons. But those that have not experienced infertility are simply unable to understand how hard it is to not to have the opportunity to do those things. It is sincerely difficult to not parent if it’s all you have wished to do.

I’ve wished for a happy moment in a hospital bed. A loving peck on the forehead as an acknowledgment for a job well done as a strong, healthy cry leaves the lungs of something we made together first sees the world. I’ve wanted to explore all of the features of my child in order to find the pieces of my husband in a laugh or a facial expression.

We find ourselves here, though. In a perpetual land of ‘wants but can’t haves’. At a fork in the road of happiness and heartache, where the directions are determined largely by finances and how much fight you have left.

Of those two conditions, finances and fight, here I want to focus on the fight. I want to dedicate this post to the resilency of infertile women (and couples) everywhere.

Some of the best people I have had the pleasure of calling a friend are infertile. I have watched them fight for weight loss in order to have an opportunity to do IVF. To wipe the savings accounts set aside for responsibility in order to try. To walk away when heartache becomes too tough to handle. These, my friends, take fight.

As National Infertilty Awareness begins, I want to recognize the Aimees, the Stephanies, the Emilys, Abbys, Anitas and Amandas of this world and say “I see you. I recognize you and your daily struggle and I am here to help you fight when you can’t do it alone.” I want to say there is beauty and grace in this strength that is impossible to see from the inside, but it is there. Happy endings are too far and few between in this community. You all deserve happiness and I wish it for you, but I want to honor the pieces of you that feel both realistic and unrealistic, hopeful yet careful, and wishful but grounded.

Lastly, I wish for peace at the end of your journey. Peace in not just the outcome, but in the decisions that bring you to the end and in moving forward once decisions are made.

This is dedicated to all those rightly bittered by infertility.

who put me in charge?

I did, I suppose. 

The grief is omnipresent and saturating. It stresses relationships & interactions and has changed every part of who I am now and who I will be later.

It just seems like, with that heaviness, I’d be ready to be lighter. To let go a little bit, to unburden myself of sadness, and to move forward with positivity. But I can’t. I’m not ready.

I have to be sad for him. I have to mourn him. All I’ve ever been was sad for him. It’s the closest emotion I have tied to his memory.  If I smile, how will that remind everyone that he existed? 

I am in charge of remembering him. I don’t trust anyone else to remember. Who else will cry for him if I don’t? Who else will imagine holding him while making breakfast while his Dad sings funny songs to him? If I don’t, who will imagine him at his soccer games? Or him sleeping on his Dad’s chest? I don’t trust the rest of the world to not stop remembering him. It is an incredible weight to exist with– but I don’t want to let it go. 

But he has given me things. He has given me a new relationship with my sister. He has shown my husband and I that we are stronger than we ever imagined. He has given me the opportunity, several times over, to see the people that we call friends and how mighty they are in their support when we need something. These things, especially the latter, is something I can not help but be happy about. If we did not experience infertility, pain and loss– we wouldn’t know these things. In an honest moment, I will remind you that these life lessons aren’t worth the cost. But in a second moment, I will say that in the moments of grief, these lessons are what keep us moving forward. 

And moving forward we are. We have had over 500 viewers of our blog. We’ve raised nearly $500 in the last 48 hours towards our goal. We have launched our Facebook page to keep everyone posted on new blog updates, new fundraising goals and opportunities and new milestones in our journey.

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We called the agency today. I’ve printed the application. I’ve tucked it neatly in it’s folder. I’ve printed the applications for grants from two non-profits for adoption assistance. 

We’re ready to build our home.