And here we are again. Another year, another Christmas.
Last Christmas eve, we spent the morning at the clinic undergoing our sixth IUI of the year. We were cheerful, optimistic and full of hope. We told ourselves, this time, this time it will work.
My heart broke into pieces.
I cried, put me back together again and then moved on.
But look at us now, a mere 12 months later.
I’m sitting in bed, my legs aching from all that time spent in the kitchen chopping and cooking and washing up. I’m listening to my favorite Glee music on the earphones, typing away on the iPad, while husband gives me a heavenly foot rub. And guess who is sharing in my music, moving his tiny ass in time?
(Answer: not husband.)
Why, my little nugget, of course!
He’s the tiny human that we have created so unexpectedly, so miraculously. He is the answer to all the prayers that I thought God had ignored. He is the little one who has brought so much hope and love into our lives. He is the son we never thought we would ever have.
And I am ever so grateful that he is here with us, even if it’s in utero.
Next year, I tell myself, next year he will share our love for Christmas and we will create traditions for our family.
(He also already has Christmas outfits in his wardrobe but let’s save that for another day.)
But while this Christmas has been a blessed one for us, I know that there are many out there who are still chasing the dream. There are those of us who keep getting our hearts smashed to bits, which make us wonder why we continue going at it?
I was once there.
I don’t know when everyone’s happily ever after will materialise but one thing that I am pretty sure of is that we will get there eventually. We will have our happy ending, no matter which form it takes.
You will get there.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
Today, my friend lost her baby.
Today, a mama lost the child that she had been so eagerly looking forward to.
Today, a little life was snuffed out.
Today, someone who deserves something good in her life received nothing but bad news and heartbreak.
Her baby was in utero, and not even three months old. It doesn’t make it less of a loss. It doesn’t make her less of a mother.
We’ve all been on the infertility train, we know the rules of the game. Seeing our little embryo snugly nestled in our womb on the ultrasound doesn’t count. Hearing the heartbeat doesn’t make it make it any more certain. Miscarriages can happen anytime within the first trimester. Nothing is guaranteed until the baby is safe and alive in your arms. It’s the luck of the draw, someone once told me. Just as a perfect embryo doesn’t guarantee pregnancy, neither does hearing that WOOSH WOOSH WOOSH reverberate around the tiny room.
When we boarded the train, we figured we will take things as they come. We didn’t want to think too far. We worry about complications and bad news, and yet we never stop hoping for the best and praying that we will have a happy ending.
And then the train hits a brick wall that throws us and our hopes up into the air. We fall, leadenly, almost as if in slow-motion. And when we hit the ground, the pain is like nothing you can imagine. It breaks our heart into little pieces that are oh so difficult to put back together. We cry, despite knowing that crying isn’t going to change the fact that the end result hurts.
I don’t know if they will carry on fighting the good fight. I wish they would, because I know that they are strong, but it’s easier said than done. Infertility takes a lot out of your soul, it can change who you are. I know that, because deep down, it’s changed me profoundly.
I can’t take away their pain, I can’t bear their burden.
I only wish I could.
Dear girl, I know that nothing I say can make that sorrow go away. Your little bean was loved by us and so are you.
One year ago, I was in a deep, dark place.
I had no idea if we would ever be pregnant. I had no idea if the ART treatments would work. I had no idea where this infertility bullet train was headed for. I had no idea for how long I would need to be on the train.
I had no idea and nowhere to go.
And now, 12 months later, things are looking so different.
I have a Tiny Human in my belly. We are oh so cautiously happy. Our marriage is stronger, sweeter and still heaps of fun. I am teeming with optimism at the new job. I am calm, confident and looking forward to the future.
But I also know that for many out there, the answer that they are seeking still eludes them. And I am grateful that I finally am at the place where I had so desperately wanted to be in, never mind that it took us a good two years.
During dinner with Mr Thick one night, I told him that sometimes, I feel almost guilty for being pregnant and writing about it. I know that there are those who started reading my blog because they identify with my struggles and it must be tough for them to know that another “sister” has left the infertility path and “graduated”. His reply was that we bring these people hope. That knowing we had succeeded and in such a miraculous fashion would give them the strength and courage to push on because if even we could do it after a year of almost continuous treatments, so could they.
I don’t know how true that is but his words brought me some consolation. I hope he is right.
I once wrote that miracles don’t happen to me and that I was putting all my eggs into the baskets of Science and Medicine. Well, I’ll have to eat my words now because Mother Nature has proven me wrong.
And for that, I am immensely grateful.
A friend of mine and I were having a chat over MSN this afternoon when I asked him about his wife, who was due next month. The conversation moved on to the topic of needles and I casually mentioned that my phobia of needles was almost completely erased, after the whole IVF experience.
(I mean, it would have been extremely counterproductive had I been squeamish about jabbing myself, wouldn’t it? I would really be wasting time and energy squirming in pain when I could just stab and go.)
He very innocently asked me the following questions: Is the course of IVF working? Is the jab helping in any way?
His questions made me smile, for it just underscored the fact that most people don’t really get what IVF is all about and they will never have to know what it entails.
And then I wondered, do I regret going through IVF?
There are some people who, when faced with infertility, dither and fall into deep depression because they cannot fathom going through the whole shebang of assisted reproductive technology. To them, the cost of going through something as deeply intrusive as ART is not worth the end result of possibly having a child.
But it was never like that for me. I would never have forgiven myself if I didn’t pursue relentlessly what I wanted. I will go on to my second or third or even fifth IVF if I need to, finances permitting (touch wood though!!). I would have done everything I could in order to spawn (and make the world a better place too!).
At the same time, I think the whole process has made me a better person. I’ve always been the instant gratification sort of person and you can imagine what kind of cosmic joke it is for the Universe to put me through infertility! Want to have a baby now? DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200 AND HEAD STRAIGHT TO JAIL.
So yes, I have learnt patience and empathy.
I used to plan my life around the perfect goal posts but now, I realize that it’s okay to move the goal posts back a little. I don’t have to have a child before I hit 30, as long as I have my child eventually. There is no law stating that 30 is the best age to have a kid, nobody is getting upset except me and for what? A silly childhood notion of white picket fences and marrying Prince William? Gah!
Plus, I think IVF has shown me just exactly what I was made of. I didn’t moan (excessively, anyway) even though I was so sick towards the end and was bordering on bloody ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome. I endured the jabs myself and even helped myself to more (acupuncture, anyone?). There were no tantrums or hormonal rages from this genetically-modified cow too. Was v proud of myself.
Along the way, I even made new friends. Talk about multitasking! I just had dinner the other day with YL and S and we were laughing and joking about our silly incidents during IVF. Like, when I went to KKH and did a vajayjay scan with Dr Handsome, only to find myself lying on that uncomfortable bed with NOTHING but a piece of PAPER TOWEL covering my nekkid lady parts. See, IVF-ers are not a depressive lot, we laugh and giggle too! We are not always moaning and weeping!
IVF has even made our marriage stronger than before. We’ve been through so much and we emerged more in love than before. He has seen a side of me that even I never knew existed, and he took care of me so tenderly and selflessly. It’s true, what doesn’t kill us will only make us stronger.
And so, my answer is no, I don’t regret going through IVF and I never will.
When people who are fertile maximus try to propagate, here’s what they have to do:
2. Go on with their lives
3. Do not get their periods on time
4. Pee on a stick and behold! two lines!
5. See their obstetrician on their 6th week of pregnancy
When reproductively challenged people try to spawn, this is what they have to do:
4. Hmm, shag?
5. Start taking BBT every morning
6. Examine cervical mucus in great detail and curiosity. Is it EW consistency?
7. See gynaecologist and horrors! no can haz baby for free?
8. Embark on life as a hormonally charged cow with little white pills or injections
10. Bedrest – no activities that might shake/frighten/push/jiggle/kill potential babies
11. Strictly no caffeine, no alcohol, no spicy food, no raw food ie. nothing that might poison potential babies
12. Pee on x number of sticks
13. Google “5dpIUI symptoms” and “cramping backache nausea” obsessively
14. Period arrives. Cry heart out at failed attempt
15. Retry steps 8 to 13
16. Cry heart out at failed attempt
17. Rinse, repeat x number of times
18. Give up weak attempts, let’s bring out the big guns! IVF, here we come
19. Turn stomach into pincushion and jab continuously for X number of days
20. Jab twice a day. May or may not feel sickly and pukey and exhausted
21. Get stabbed by IV and go under for doctor to suck out eggs from the ovaries
22. Worry obsessively about whether eggs are getting it on with sperm in petrie dish
23. Expose nekkid bottom to all and sundry as fertilized embryos get sent back to Camp Womb
24. Bedrest – no activities that might shake/frighten/push/jiggle/kill potential babies
25. Strictly no caffeine, no alcohol, no spicy food, no raw food ie. nothing that might poison potential babies
26. Google “spotting 5dp3dt” obsessively
27. Stick little white pills or tubes up the vajayjay day and night
28. Pee on x number of sticks
29. Period arrives OR go for blood test
30. Cry heart out at failed attempt
31. Check bank account for money left (if any)
32. Go back to the doctor and arrange for another cycle
33. Live like a normal person for a while
34. Repeat steps 19 to 28
No wonder we are all stressed!