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.