Back in January, I found myself yet again in the dreaded 2 week wait. This time was even more final than the others, as these were our last 2 embryos from the only fresh IVF cycle I ever will goes through. A lot was riding on this period and I was spending a lot of time fighting off the negative-thinking/symptom watching with distraction. It was during this period, as I was beginning my daily commute between Tacoma and Seattle, that I frequently heard The Illumineer's latest release "Stubborn Love" playing on the radio. A haunting melody that would be stuck with me during the hours I was working and seeking distraction from unwanted thoughts.
She'll lie and steal and cheat,
And beg you from her knees
Make you thinks she means it this time
As the days passed, I tired to figure out what it was about this song that was sticking with me. After all, in moments where grief and despair threatened to take over, I would find this song playing and willing me not to surrender. Like most who have been on this road, I initially associated this as a sign from our two embryos, thinking it was their way of communicating with me and telling me not to give up. But as time went on, it became apparent the message was more than that.
She'll tear a hole in you, the one you can't repair
But I still love her, I don't really care
It's no secret that fertility treatments are nightmarish experiences. Between the drugs, the waiting, the unknowns, it's enough to drive a person mad. Add in the fact that success is not a given, with most having to endure multiple rounds, and it's not terribly surprising that one's mental and emotional state can rapidly deteriorate. Still, hope of a positive outcome keeps us coming back. The promise of holding our children and putting all of this behind gives us the courage to try, even in the face of so much pain.
Reflecting back on my youth, I remember being naive about pain. A lot of the time, the solutions to problems were simple, requiring a limited amount of time and energy to come to resolution.
When we were young,
Oh oh, we did enough
When it got cold,
Ooh ooh, we bundled up
I can't be told,
Ah ah it can't be done
With infertility, though, I learned the true nature of pain. What it truly meant to lose and the madness of having no easy solution. For a long time, I struggled with my anger and bitterness regarding my lot. "Why me? Why this?" were questions I frequently asked, not only myself, but those around me and even the universe. Instead of getting answers, though, silence was often the response. Silence that only exacerbated the pain.
And then came my losses. The babies that were dearly wanted that were gone too soon. The pain and the grief were debilitating, leaving me praying for the numbness would set in and that I could retreat into my cocoon.
It's better to feel pain, than nothing at all
The opposite of love's indifference
So pay attention now,
I'm standing on your porch screaming out
And I won't leave until you come downstairs
In the end, though, I learned that running the pain only extended it. That denying its existence didn't erase it. That it required me to face it, embrace it. It was then and only then that I truly began to heal.
Still the urge to run and hide exists. The temptation to ignore all that's happened and pretend it was a bad dream, allowing us to be "normal" is one that pulls on Grey and I daily. After all, it's what society pushes us to do and the discomfort we encounter talk about our losses makes it clear that many would prefer we didn't.
And I don't blame ya dear
For running like you did, all these years
I would do the same, your best believe
And the highway signs say we're close,
But I don't read those things anymore
I never trusted my own eyes
Listening to the radio, one thing became clear: as painful as all of this has been, there have been gains. I learned that there is a strength that exists in all of us that so few know how to tap. That to tap it requires one to face greatest fears and to refuse to simply except their lot. That, too often, with the easy road comes misery and unhappiness. That when we conform to what others believe we should be or act in ways that others deem acceptable, more often than not we are no longer being true to ourselves. Hence it's important to follow our heart, picking the road that is best for us. To ignore the warning signs and to take a chance.
So keep your head up, keep your love
Keep your head up, my love
Keep your head up, my love
Keep your head up, keep your love
In the end, this song wasn't simply a sign from the embryos that were implanting. This song was a reminder of all that had happened. A reminder of the ones we had lost along the way. And it was a call, during this period of uncertainty and anxiety to not give up. A reminder to have hope for a life that was worth living.
This is their song.