|Self portrait with boxing gloves.|
There are moments in our life’s that change everything. These moments alter the way we see the world around us, how we understand other people, how we walk, talk, and breathe…moments that change us to our core. April 2nd has become one of those days in my life.
A year ago I lost a piece of me, I lost a chunk of my heart, my faith, my hope…myself. We learned that the two embryo babies didn’t make it. You can read about the day that changed us here.
In some ways it seems like April 2, 2015 was forever ago, other days it feels like I’m still re-living every second of it. In the last year I have fought demons and internal battles I never dreamed I would. I have always considered myself to be a strong woman, I’ve always confronted challenges and obstacles head on, and eventually rose through the ashes. Infertility however, infertility has broken any sense of “strength” I once thought I had—it has broken me! I have questioned my ability to rise up at every turn since.
Anyone close to me knows I’m different now. I haven’t been the strong, kind, determined, energetic, optimistic, fun-loving, confident woman I spent so much time working to become, even if I am still her, I don’t feel like it. I have been fighting tooth and nail to “find myself” again this year, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Many days I’m furious with myself for “breaking” for letting the cracks show through this year…for letting this BREAK ME DOWN.
I have been fighting…hard, to get myself back. I see a mental health counselor often, I hired a personal trainer that I go to once a week, I have stepped back from many projects, I have changed my diet…I am fighting to get myself back. I may not feel strong anymore, but when it comes to fight or flight, I’m naturally a fighter.
Since April 2, 2015 I have become a bully. I beat myself up mentally and emotionally to the point I’m unrecognizable to myself. I tell my body and my brain how much I hate it, and I have become the mean girl in my own life. I am working on this and trying hard to love myself, broken or whole.
Along with being a fighter, I’m a creator. I love finding old, “unusable,” uncommon, broken things, and making them something I can show off in my home or my life. Nothing brings more joy to me than finding something “plain,” slapping a little paint, or glitter, or modge podge on it and making it special again. Our house has few things that are store bought, or in their original state, I’ve “Deja-ized” (as Lucas says) nearly everything to make them something meaningful to me. I’m working hard now to do the same with myself. I’m not the same, and that’s okay, I just have to find new way to Deja-ize myself into something I’m proud of again.
It’s been a hard year, but it’s always been pretty remarkable.
I have grown to love my husband in a way I never dreamed imaginable. Our love has hit a new level in the last year—I have developed a new love and appreciation for him, more than ever before. He loves the BROKEN Deja in ways I can’t love myself. I have grown closer to my family and friends who have truly stepped up, been patient with me, loved me at my WORST, and have been unconditionally patient with me. Friends who have sent me care packages, texts, emails, and love when I didn’t even realize I needed it. In times of darkness those who are truly there to light your way, show up brighter than ever before.
Many have asked what’s next for us…
Lucas and I spent much of the last year focusing on ourselves and our marriage…trying to get back to some resemblance of a normal life. Lucas got a new job, I finished my PhD coursework and started my dissertation, we have grown new friendships, and have worked on establishing a positive routine in our lives.
Just three weeks ago, we both felt we were ready to finally address what was next. After lots of prayer and conversation we made the decision to try again with IVF.
I’ve heard it ALL at this point: “Why would you put yourself through that again?” “Why don’t you just adopt?” “Why would you do this again when you are always saying how hard it is?” “Why do something again that will break you, when you’re finally getting back to normal?” It’s really a simple answer, hope.
No matter the pain we experienced we have hope, even if hope is microscopic most days…it’s hope and it’s always there nagging at us. I suspect that when you want something bad enough, no matter how beat up you are, how damaged you feel, you can’t give up, because somehow giving up is even more painful.
For reasons personal to us, we made the decision to find a new IVF doctor, to seek a second opinion, and to consider a different fertility clinic. We scheduled an interview with a new clinic this last week (per the recommendation of my sweet cousin Tiff), and on Thursday we had our meeting. I was SICK as could be right before our appointment because I WAS FREAKING OUT about throwing us into the depths again…but I also knew it was the right time no matter how scared I was. It was an INCREDIBLY POWERFUL experience for us.
We walked into our new clinic and we both felt so peaceful, instantly, it was magic. It’s a small clinic, MUCH smaller than our last one, and the atmosphere is completely different…and we loved it. I have NO DOUBT in my mind, that despite my struggles spiritually in the last year, that the Lord lead us to that clinic that day.
We met with a new doctor, Dr. H and we felt an instant connection with him. He had some unique ideas for us, was upfront with us, and had done all his research on our case beforehand. He spent over an hour talking with us, answering our thousands of questions, and didn’t seem the least bit annoyed or rushed. He was thorough and thoughtful, and we were beaming when we left.
So here it goes, our plan.
I am going to try to carry myself this time. No surrogate, me! Of course this has always been our ideal plan, but I have been told in the past I couldn’t carry because of my uterus. With our last round of IVF however, we learned my eggs were more the problem than my uterus, and Dr. H. has reviewed all my scans and thinks it might be possible. In order to carry, I do have to pass a series of tests, some of these tests I have not passed in the past. I, however, have already miraculously passed a few of these tests yesterday. I have several more to go, and there is always a chance I won’t pass them all, but we’re taking the optimistic approach.
There is also a small possibility I will be able to use my own eggs too—how great would that be!?! We are considering some options to improve my egg quality—including using human growth hormones to improve my egg quality. All of this is still up in the air, but the clinic also has one of the largest databases of egg donor in the world if we need them.
Yesterday, I passed my uterus quality test (yes there is such a thing) meaning preliminary tests show my uterus is in good shape to carry a baby (size, shape, etc.), which we are obviously thrilled about! I also gave about 15 vials of blood yesterday which is still being tested—I will update you when I hear back on this.
There is an area of concern that I need you guys to pray and cross your fingers for…
My ultrasound yesterday shows my ovaries are in pretty bad shape. I have cysts on both my right and left ovary, and they aren’t small cysts (which I have had plenty of in the past, and cysts are not uncommon for most woman). The cyst on my right ovary is fairly large, but the ovary itself appears to be in fair shape. To give you guys a quick lesson in ovaries (lucky you), an average woman’s ovary is usually between 3 and 8 mL in size (this can vary greatly depending on a woman’s age—this is a general guideline). My right ovary, with the cyst on it, is measuring at about 23 mL, so significantly larger.
Here is where things get a little concerning, my left ovary is in far worse condition. I have a cyst on my left ovary that is 86.2 mL’s, it gigantic (remember the norm is between 3 and 9)! I’m thanking the Lord that I have not been in a lot more pain than I have been with a cyst this size. The point in me telling you all this is that both ovaries have to be 100% clear of any cysts before I can do anything with IVF, including determining if it is possible to extract my own eggs. Most cysts go away within a couple of months on their own, without needing surgery. If these cysts do not go away, they will have to be surgically removed. Many times a cyst the size of the one on my left is operated on right away, but because surgery can cause scar tissue (which I already have a lot of), and can damage the ovary, we are going to give the sucker two months or it will be evicted.
Overall, the great news now is that we have a plan. We are ready and willing to give it another time. Answers to how exactly we are going to do this are still up in the air…but we’re optimistic.
In conclusion, thank you all for your continual love and support in our journey. Thank you for loving us through all of this, for listening and sharing our story, for believing in us, and most importantly for continuing to pray for us.
We love you all and hope you will join us on the new phase of our journey—I promise to keep you posted. You’re comments, thoughts, and kind words are what keep up going—we need you and love you!
Below is a picture of gift I made for Lucas today. It’s a shadow box with a picture of our little embryos that says, “A person’s a person no matter how small,” a newly favorited Dr. Seuss quote I love. The frame has two little butterflies in it, and glitter in the bottom…I was going for a snow globe effect. This will hanging in our home as a sweet reminder of our journey, your love and support, and hope.