Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bracing for impact

Many years ago, I was a moderately active rock climber. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are lucky to have a number of areas within driving distance, so the summers were spent traveling to the various climbing areas, camping and scaling as many of the routes as we could in a day. Though there were aspects of the sport I still don't like (the gorilla nature of many of the younger guys and the lackadaisical attitude from many of the new climbers about learning proper technique; both of which lead to witnessing many incidents that would classify as Darwin Awards), there were parts I loved: the community, the need for communication and teamwork and the importance of patience.

The thing is with rock climbing, if you stay with it long enough, at some point you will end up being hurt if not killed. A twist of an ankle can result in not only a strained ankle but also potentially a fall. And one injury or very close-call can end it all, which it did for me. Following my accident in 2009, I've put away my climbing shoes. Initially it made sense: Grey and I were starting our journey to expand our family. Considering there is no known history of infertility in my family, we naively assumed that this would be the easy part, hence rock climbing no longer fit into the equation. But as time has gone on and now, 2.5 yrs later with multiple BFNs, three failed medicated IUIs, IVF, FET and 2 miscarriages, I'm beginning to regret the decision to give up an activity that I loved all in pursuit of a baby.

Some of you may suggest getting back on the rock, but that's not the point of this post. What I want to focus on instead is the correlation I can draw between rock climbing and our IF journey. Especially considering the events of this past week.

Ladies and gentlemen, Grey and I have not been doing well. The emotional rollercoaster is in full swing here and both Grey and I have been riding it. This past Tuesday, Grey and I went back to our clinic for our baseline for FET #2. I've talked before how much I love my clinic, as the staff and REs are absolutely amazing. And the appointment went smoothly: both ovaries are quiet, lining measures at 10.1 mm and E2 levels at 396. Still, the second I walked into the waiting area, I knew I did not want to be there. That as much as I have grown to know and love each of the providers there, this place has become one associated with so much pain. And so I did what any grief-striken person would do: I sobbed like a baby. I cried for all the failure, cried so my lost children, cried for having to do this all over again. And I cried because I fear losing the dream of pregnancy and biological children. And when I looked up, I found Grey crying too.

Despite the good news from the appointment, the arrival of the new flooring (which has completely transformed our condo from a low-end rental to a place that civilized humans would actually want to live in) and the optimism from all those around us, both Grey and I are afraid of what is to come. Tuesday has a number of hurdles all it's own as our embryos need to survive the thaw and determining how many will be fit for transfer. Then there's the 2ww, ending with three different outcomes: BFN, BFP or miscarriage. And though I now know it's possible to become pregnant, I also have never gotten past the 5 week mark nor seen a heartbeat.

In a strange way, our attempt at fertility treatments has become a climbing problem.  In the climbing world, there are routes where the most difficult portion of the climb or "crux" exists not at the top of the route, but at the beginning. Initially, we were having problems becoming pregnant, so it was assumed that this was our crux. Then there were the miscarriages, with us running into an unexpected crux. And with those loses came the sudden drop back into pain and despair, feeling the full weight from the impact of hitting the ground. The frustrating part of this is that there is no one that has an explanation for how to get past this point. And so we sit at the bottom of the problem, tending our wounds while trying to map out the moves that need to be done to get through.

There's a lot hanging on this FET. Failure will not instantly kill us, as many are quick to point out, but it will cause more harm than many are willing to admit. Though Grey and I are communicating, both of us are grieving, which is evident in our mannerisms and our isolating ourselves from others. Even blogging has become difficult and I've found I'm distancing myself more and more from the community, which I have no explanation of other than I feel defeated. There's also the reminder that even if all of this works out, we are both forever changed. Finding our children, be it through pregnancy or adoption, will no longer revert us back to the state we were in 2.5 yrs ago; something family and friends naive to this process are hoping for. Instead, we are hardened to the world and problems of those who easily obtain what we've broken ourselves over. And it scares both of us.

But not moving forward isn't an option. To put all of this on hold in hopes of "getting to a better place" is simply putting off the inevitable, increasing our fears of the outcome. To not move forward means more madness, increased fear and ultimately regret. In the end, we are picking the lesser of two evils, running full speed into a vortex vs. freezing to death in this IF induced winter. At least with the vortex, there is the hope of coming out on the other side. So, we try again, the entire time being aware that we once again may have to brace for impact.

Tuesday is coming. And with it the knowledge that once again we will begin a journey in a very similar fashion with the hopes of a different outcome. Each hold has become second nature and the first bolt is in sight. Now, it's just a matter of reaching it and locating the second one.


  1. I have a lump in my throat for you. It's so true that regardless of outcome, this journey changes everything about your world. And I don't see that ever changing... or people who haven't been there, really understanding... ever.

    I'm holding out so much hope for your hail Mary FET. Tuesday is my birthday and as much as I'd like to sleep through the day, maybe it will bring you some luck!! Lame, right? Ah well, we gotta hold on to something lest we go completely mad! xo

  2. Thank you for so openly sharing your story. After years of fertility meds and three rounds of IVF we still had no baby. I too loved my clinic but the fourth round of IVF I cried every morning that I had to sit in that waiting room. I cried out of fear that we'd lose another chance and that soon we'd be out of the game for good.

    No one ever prepared me for how hard the impact from a failed IVF cycle hurts. I too used to climb and sometimes the pain from IF hurt as much as falling from a cliff. Shit, it hurts.

    Isolation is the bitter and lonely reality of getting this far into the fertility journey and still not having a baby. And I'm so sorry that you're experiencing it.

    My fourth round of IVF was successful and I now have two healthy little babies but I'll tell you, I'm still bitter and angry and having a hard time getting over all the heartache. And I secretly still have a pang of...something not so nice when I hear about people getting pregnant easily...even if their 'easy' is on the first cycle of IVF. IF has done that to me and I don't like it but it's my truth.

    I guess I just wanted to tell you that I understand, that I'm sorry you're going through this, and that I hope this round works for you.

  3. I like your analogy. I always think of it as a journey more than a race because with a race there is only one first place winner and the rest are truly just losers to the first place. I want to win in my own journey. I too might have to find my children through alternate means.

  4. Holding my breath and hoping for the only acceptable outcome this time. And hugs to you, Christy.

  5. I'm not a climber, but I love this analogy. I'm sorry you guys are having such a hard time right now. I'm sure that moving forward is the right thing for you, but sometimes you do just have to stop for a minute and grieve, just like you did at the clinic. And no wonder. That place is definitely associated with some not so nice memories for you. I wish you the best of luck as you move forward. Sending you hugs!

  6. Trust that this can and will work. You guys have survived so much, and I'm sure it was hard to return to your clinic's office that you associate with so much loss. But you've come so far and as I've been saying all along, I believe this FET could be it for you guys. I believe your body has the ability to nurture and support a pregnancy to term. As scary as I know it is, I hope you reach a place of hope and faith soon, your frostie babies are going to need the best "you" you can give them. I'm sending you a tidal wave of positive energy... and I'm going to keep it coming through Tuesday and the rest of this cycle. Hang on Cristy!

  7. Oh Cristy - I feel your pain so acutely. This post made me feel normal. Hugs.

  8. I love the way you put words to your emotions. Climbing is a great comparison. I know how you feel about waiting for the next's a scary thing. I have hope for you, even in a time when it's hard for you to find it for yourself. Hang in there my friend. You both will get through this.

  9. That's such a fitting analogy. I hope the transfer today goes smoothly, at least physically. it must be really hard being back there, sending good thoughts your way. xx

  10. This post brought back a flood of memories. There are a few places that have been associated with so much stress and so much pain that I feel ill being near them. It is an odd feeling that followed me long past the hard times - like a smell of childhood making you feel at peace, but the opposite.

    I am sorry that you are struggling. I am sorry that Grey is struggling too. Hang in there though. We can each only do our best, and you are. That matters. You will survive this, and I hope with time your injuries will heal.

    I hope tomorrow is a little bit brighter.


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