Monday, August 27, 2007

Not bitter ... not broken

Today JB and I had our physicals for the adoption. The appointment was with another fellow resident who was extremely sweet. She has an adopted sister from Taiwan and couldn't help but say repeatedly how honored she was to take part in this process. John was seeing other patients, however, he stopped in for a few minutes and will get some of his other tests done later. We also went in early this morning for blood work and a urine sample. The good news is that it looks like we are healthy enough to be parents!

During the course of my appointment this afternoon, I found myself getting pretty emotional. In fact, during the drive on the way home, I burst out into tears. I am not exactly sure where those tears came from. I think part of the emotions is the fact that, as most of you know I don't ovulate. And if I do ovulate it usually 1-2 times a year. Well I did ovulate last month, I knew I was ovulating, and yet again, we are not pregnant. Now I know that this is likely. Even if I do successfully ovulate, we have a secondary "speed bump" in that there is some sort of sperm binding issue working against us. I know that. I also know that a pregnancy would completely halt our adoption in its tracks. And yet, it is difficult not to get hopeful.

The other thing that got to me was just being in a doctor's office in general. I kept thinking that the last time I was in a doctor's office, I was doing my fourth round of IVF. As this physician spoke with me and she asked me about my infertility history, she seemed flabbergasted as I listed the procedures: 2 rounds of clomid, 5 rounds of artificial insemination, 2 harvests for IVF, 4 IVF transfers ... Did we really do all that? I told her we still had 7 embryos to go back for and as I said it I thought, "How can I do that again?" I don't want to do that again. Will I ever, emotionally, be able to handle the process of IVF again nevertheless a minimum of two times more? More shots, more pills, more appointments. Of course my ever rationale husband would tell me, "Now Wendi, that is many years away. Is there any point in worrying now about that?" No dear JB. There isn't.

I realized that during the last four years, I was going to the doctor at least five times a month for infertility related issues. This is my best estimate. Some months were more. Some months were less. Some months I went five times in a week! Anyways, with that modest estimate, that equals 60 times a year. Multiply that by four years and you have 240 appointments. Now think about the fact that most of these required needles and exams most people don't enjoy and discussions of an extremely personal part of our lives, and, you know, I just can't believe I actually made it through that. Nor can I imagine going through it again.

The subject of "bitterness" has come up in recent weeks in numerous conversations I have had regarding infertility and grief. Even today, bitterness is my constant enemy. I am very careful not to allow myself to make calloused comments or hateful statements. Phrases like, "I'll never get pregnant. What am I doing wrong? Why can't it be my turn? That's so unfair etc. etc." These phrases just have to be eliminated from my vocabularly. John helps me in this. Early on in my infertility journey I had an image of myself at my own funeral. I realized that the eulogy could go two ways. Either everyone would say, "You know, from the moment she found out she was barren, that woman became the most bitter, biting old hag I ever met ..." Or, people could say, "You know, even though she fought that infertility crud, she never let it get the best of her." I wanted the latter! I wanted to be happy.

But this is hard when you feel like you are the only woman in the world who can't get pregnant. For awhile, every pregnant woman I saw was just a stab in the gut -- a reminder of what I couldn't have. To combat this, I made myself PRAY for the woman and her baby every time a pregnant person passed me. Well that did the trick. You can't be silently cursing someone when you are praying for them now can you? I also started the blog to help share my thoughts and feelings with friends and family and open up the conversation on the topic. I told people how they could help. I asked friends to be sensitive with pregnancy announcements. I made it a personal goal to help educate the public about infertility. I discovered and realized I could send a baby gift without ever having to walk back into the baby section again! I decided I would not attend any baby showers for the sake of my own sanity. I helped start the support group at my church in Minnesota. I found "Hannah's Prayer" online. I started going to counseling. I turned to my best bud Kristi and a few other close friends who had experienced the pain of infertility. I did everything that I could to stay healthy. I did not want to turn into a bitter woman. I did not want to get depressed. There were many nights JB would go down his "depression checklist" and then tell me that I was doing okay. "You aren't depressed. You are just very, very sad," he would say. He learned how to help me. We learned how to help each other.

I am not glad we had to deal with infertility. What I am glad about is that I have learned how to grieve. I have learned how to comfort others who are grieving. I have understood what it feels like to question God, your faith, your stability, your marriage, your future, eternity. And I have come out on the other side. Today in the doctor's office I think I realized that I am no longer "the infertile woman". I am the "woman who will soon be a mom." I was so relieved to have all that behind me, at least for awhile. It felt good!