Friday, December 14, 2012

Raising hope

Three. Three years ago this month, Grey and I prepared for a journey that would expand our family. Three years ago, we naively believed we would be spending our last Christmas without children. What followed instead was three years of pain, heartache, grief and loss. Three years of becoming what so many people fear.

On Sunday, everything came to a head. Granted, I've been on BCPs and Lupron. It's a given that they always tank my mood, causing me unending levels of anxiety and pain. But this time was different. Being stuck in a coffee shop while working on writing a final exam key and worry about the future, the whole time swearing I was going to pass out because the barista couldn't figure out how to turn down the heat in one area of the shop, I almost physically collapsed. It was in that moment, that I realized I was literally killing myself.  And I was done. I couldn't continue with living a state where hope didn't exist. That the loss of hope wasn't just killing me, it was killing Grey too.

Here's the thing: it's very easy to be hopeful . . . in hindsight. My reader has been filled recently with posts from fellow ALIer's who have been able to conceive through fertility treatments telling people not to lose hope. Though an important message, it's still coming after the fact. But to have hope DURING a period of fear, especially following years of disappointment and failure, well that's a hell of a lot harder if not something that is discouraged. For anyone who's been on this road, you know how skilled one becomes at killing hope in attempts to steal one's self from disappointment and pain. It practically becomes second nature. To foster hope involves confronting fear, acknowledging that pain and disappointment could happen, but also refusing to allow it to take over. Raising hope is a scary business.

Monday morning, following proctoring a final exam, Grey and I moved our embryos to the new clinic. Being back in the old clinic triggered a wave of emotions, causing me to remember all we had lived through. It was hard being back in a place that had once been a place of hope. That now was filled with memories of what should have been.

After checking in, we were instructed to go to the lab. While Grey went to find a restroom, I was left alone with our original embryologist. She's an incredibly tall, solid woman with fiery red hair and a no nonsense attitude, which has earned her the affectionate nickname Big Red. Taking the dewar we had to the back, I assumed that she would simply transfer our two remaining embryos into the tank and send us on our way. Instead, she emerged carrying a smaller dewar (after refilled the larger one) and placed it in front of me. Gingerly, she lifted the metal stick inside and showed me 2 one-inch straws. We verified that they belonged to me (numbers and names matched), before she submerged them again into the liquid nitrogen, but in that moment I saw a flash of love in her eyes. She then looked right at me and told me "my greatest hope is that every embryo I help create goes on to be a healthy, happy baby."

In that moment, everything changed. All the doubt, all the fear vanished. Though I've had so many people tell me that they have hope for us for this cycle, I've been stuck in old patterns of pretending to hope for the best, but actually replaying worst-case scenarios in my brain over and over. Looking into Big Red's eyes, I knew I couldn't do that anymore. To do so would guarantee that this cycle would fail. To do so would be unfair to Grey and me. To do so would be unfair to our snowbabies.

The car ride over to the new clinic helped me formulate a plan. Watching Grey with the dewar once we had the embryos gave me a glimpse at what an amazing father he will be (at one point, he rolled up the windows in the car because he was worried the embryos would catch cold). Looking at the paperwork reminded me that these two are strong (4AB and 5AB when frozen).

So, I made a decision to change my outlook on this cycle. I've said before that there is a chance that this cycle will result in a BFN, leaving both Grey and I heartbroken. But, there's also a very good chance that this cycle will work. That after 3 years on this journey we will be able to not only achieve pregnancy but also bring home our children.

With Dee and David's help, I've begun visualizing a positive outcome to this cycle. These exercises have been harder than I ever imagined, trigger panic and guilt (my favorite thought is "how can you be so naive?!?!?"). Do I believe that these visualizations will cure me of infertility? No. Absolutely not. But for too long I haven't allowed myself to hope, convinced that if I did I would be fooling myself. The thing is, I can no longer live without hope as to do so is killing us. So, despite the gatekeepers screaming protests, I've been pushing the visualizations. Bit by bit, I'm seeing images of my children's faces. The smiles and coos. I'm seeing Grey hold them, smiling a smile I haven't seen in 3 years. I'm seeing our family walking down the street years later, with them pushing the stroller of their brother/sister, who we've adopted, and talking happily about how special our family is. I'm even allowing myself to see me pregnant with them; and actually enjoying this pregnancy.

Needless to say, the Jabberwocky has been raging and the gatekeepers have been going crazy. But I'm pushing. Pushing Grey too, telling him over and over that this cycle will work. That we will bring home our children soon.

So far, it's been working. Taking these moments to envision our family has resulted in both a calmer Cristy and Grey. And we've been seeing signs of hope too, from unexpectedly finding cherry blossoms on trees that should be dormant to watching both hummingbirds share a feeder (which never, ever happens). Adding to the spirit, we got the green light for this cycle this morning, with me sailing through the suppression check in under 5 mins. All the more reason to have hope.

I'm ending this post with a song I heard many years ago as a child. Granted, it's early 1990's music, but the message is still an important one. Despite all the pain and suffering, you need to have hope. Be it with one day becoming pregnant, carrying a pregnancy to term, with your baby surviving/thriving despite a birth defect, or even just to know that one day you will get past this. That all the pain will be gone and that there will be happiness again. To hope is to live.



22 comments:

  1. This post warms my heart. Visualize away!!

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  2. So inspiring! You definitely have the right attitude. Kudos for facing the fear and not letting it beat you. I needed to read this. I need to embrace hope instead of fear again! Thank you and good luck!

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  3. Aw, such an important message today, too, in light of all the horrible news. I'm glad you're feeling better, or at least maybe calmer, going into this transfer. Do you know yet if they're transferring one or both? Is there a date set? (I'm kinda new to the IVF scene, so not sure if you have a schedule set in stone or if it ends up depending on how things look inside).

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  4. It does seem almost impossible to hope sometimes. I had no hope at all when we transferred the last two frozen embryos that would become our twins. We'd been trying for 5 years, and had finally gotten pregnant...only to have a miscarriage at 8 weeks. I just didn't care. I was only going through with the transfer because I didn't want to look back on it years later and wonder "what if?". One of the few good things about undergoing ART is that it can work whether you have hope or not. You have something better than hope...you have a chance. :)

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  5. I am so proud of you and your renewed faith. Your embie grades sounds so promising!

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  6. I too have found new hope. I'm so excited for you. I'm excited for what you have found through this experience. Wishing you peace and positivity on this journey....hoping and praying for you!

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  7. I am so proud of you for taking this chance. I know how hard it is to turn your mindset around, but I think it will help you get through this cycle. And remember, you are trying something different this time. It doesn't have to end the way the others did. I for one, am excited for you.

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  8. Ah hope, such a tricky four letter word. The thing is, without it, at least a glimmer, why would any of us put ourselves through any of this? I am flag you are feeling hopeful and in a better place going into this cycle. I am so hopeful for you as well!

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  9. Clapping and cheering for this post! I am so glad you have arrived at a positive place. No matter what happens - it's so much better to be coming from a positive place than a negative one. I do believe it will make a difference. And I do believe in your embryos! Glad to hear too that the suppression check went well. Onward and upward! xo

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  10. Really hoping that at least one frostie sticks.

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  11. Oh Cristy, I want this for you SO much. In the past few months I've felt your fear in every word you've written and said. It is so amazing to hear you have a renewed sense of hope. Your precious embies are so lucky to have you guys. I know you will both make amazing parents. I'm pulling for you...every step of the way.

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  12. You are an inspiration, Cristy. Hope can be a beautiful thing.
    Anything is possible.

    ~Keisha~

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  13. I love this post, it encompasses so much of what I can't put into words as eloquently as you have around 'hope'.
    I understand the having the hope for other people, I look at it as 'this is really scary and full-on for you and keeping hope within yourself is hard enough without the scary other emotions that are going on, so I will hold the hope aside for you while you deal with the rest'. I'm doing so for you, anyway.
    I know I don't comment much here at all, and I keep meaning to.I get your posts in my email inbox so often read there but don't click over and comment after (Bad Stinky) usually cos I'm gobbling down breakfast and on the way out the door straight after! But I'm definitely reading along and cheering you both on, even though I'm a relatively silent reader

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  14. Great post Cristy. Bravo. This is inspiring!

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  15. It's a tricky balance--hope without delusion. But it's wonderful to see you so positive about your upcoming cycle. And it sounds like you're off to a good start!

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  16. You are amazing. I absolutely love your blog and the podcasts (I listen to every single one, faithfully!). Believe me, I wish so much I could snap my fingers and make everyone's infertility struggles disappear.

    You are so right though when it comes to doubt and fear. It's just so much easier to expect the worst. But we HAVE to believe that success is in our future. Hopefully your new clinic will be exactly what you guys need.

    While you may not "know" anyone who comes here and posts to you - know that we are all your friends and here for you on your journey. That you guys are NOT alone. Good luck!!

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  17. Beautifully written. I remember it was hard to find hope around the 3 year marker also. After having hope for what feels like a life time and still not achieving what you had set out to do, it is hard to keep hope. For our last IVF cycle, I'm not sure where my hope was, as it wasn't forefront and center, but I know it was somewhere.
    May your hope carry you through and be exactly what you need!

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  18. Beautiful visualizations, and I really like that song. May Hope be a loyal and kind friend to you. XOXO

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  19. I'm hoping right there with you!!

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  20. I feel strongly that Big Red was a sign. A very important sign... just for you. Grey will have his own, and you will have signs together. But she was yours. I'm glad your eyes were lifted just enough to see it.

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  21. I have so much hope for you too. The moment during last week's podcast when you said you would be in the backseat singing lullabies to the dewars brought tears to my eyes. May you be singing lullabies to living breathing little ones one day very soon.

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  22. Visualizing right along with you friend. And hoping with everything inside of me that this will be the cycle that brings you your baby!

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