I’ve been sharing along the way our journey to try to grow our family, through acupuncture, natural treatments, energy work, hormone therapy, IUI and IVF. Well this week, we have come to the end of the road, and as our fertility journey comes to an end, I am working on acceptance, gratitude and peace for the ways things are. And a life of travel and ponies.
We tried another round of IVF last month, and while our numbers were even better than the first round, we were still unable to produce a genetically viable embryo. This time we had 18 eggs, which we thought was pretty good going, of those 9 were fully mature and another 4 were semi-mature. So of those possible 13, 9 fertilized. Last time we had 5 that fertilized by day 1, so we were excited. Of those 9, 4 grew to blast stage (5 days). Again, last time we had 2, so we were doubly hopeful. But sadly, of those 4, all had chromosomal abnormalities.
I know some people would think that 2 rounds of IVF isn’t many, and that if we were really serious we’d keep going. But for us that’s not how we feel. We’ve tried for 2 years, done some kind of fertility treatment for 18 months, and we’re at peace with not going any further. The strain – financially, physically, and emotionally – is profound. IVF is tough – I have such renewed respect for anyone who goes through that journey. It’s really, really hard.
I think I struggle a bit extra because as a naturopathic doctor, it’s my job to fix medical problems, and to be able to help other people with their health. So I feel very vulnerable that I can’t fix myself and my own problems. And yet, I know deep down that God doesn’t make mistakes, and that if our family is supposed to be a 3-person family, then there is a bigger reason for that that I can’t see. I’m engulfed in sadness, and a sense of loss; and yet there is peace in there too, that things end up the way they’re supposed to, because I’ve seen that in my life so far, and even if I haven’t wanted it or even understood it, ultimately, it’s been made clear.
I realize that I am in a much different spot to many couples who struggle with fertility issues. I have a daughter. I am a mother. I get to have that experience. For that I am incredibly grateful and it definitely makes this easier to handle.
And in truth, there is some relief in how I feel. I’m sick of the emotional rollercoaster – the hopes, the disappointments, the “maybe next times”, the shelling out thousands of dollars, the stress of my body, the 15 pounds I’ve gained with all the drugs and hormones, the tears. My friends not knowing if they should ask or not how things are going. Strangers asking me how many kids we have and when I say one, they ask if we’re having any more. To date I’ve said “we’re trying” or “we’d like to”. Now I’ll say “no, we have our daughter and we’re not having any more children.” This is it.
I’m back to looking for the silver lining. I’m committing to a life of travel and ponies. I don’t know what we’ll end up doing with Valentina’s education given the California vaccine laws, but given how healthy and perfect she is, given that she’s our only, I’m not taking any risks on her health. So maybe we will homeschool, and maybe we can do that from Australia. And maybe with all our time and resources being available to her, she will get a pony (maybe? I’ve already told my husband it’s a given!); and maybe I’ll get a horse too so we can ride together.
There are many happy 3-person families; and happy single children. I am part of a very, very supportive mama Facebook group, and when this happened, I asked for their support by telling happy stories of being a single child or having an only child, and they poured out many positive ones. It warmed my heart.
I’m writing this from my sister’s kitchen table as Valentina plays outside with her cousins. I’m so committed to getting them together at least twice a year as they have such a ball together. And although sadness wells up easily, I am reaching deep and drawing on my faith, my gratitude for what we have, and the love and support of my husband, family and friends. And as I’ve said before – my love, support and prayers go out to every couple on the fertility journey – may you have peace with the outcome, whatever it may be.
So for now I say cheers, to Valentina, travel and ponies.