The long, long wait

Africa October 2007 (3034)

I was first married at the age of 31. I married my high school “sweetheart” after we had been together for about 15 years or so. I remember in those early days of marriage and through most of our married relationship, we’d get a lot of questions about when we would have kids. Sometimes questions were direct, and sometimes they were subtle hints. Sometimes it was not subtle at all. I remember a family camping trip where the in-laws snuck into our tent leaving behind baby shower signs. I thought it was kind of cute and funny at the time, not knowing I would still be childless so many years later. In the beginning, these questions didn’t really bother me. It was definitely on my mind, but following high school, we had both been very driven with our college education and our careers. Once we were ready for marriage, there were travel plans to fulfill before babies. I wasn’t quite yet ready for kids, but I also knew that time was ticking and I didn’t want to end up regretting it later because I had “missed my chance.”   In that dual income, no kids relationship, we were fortunate to travel to South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, New Zealand, Amsterdam, France and Greece. It was truly incredible. I’m thankful for those opportunities and the memories of seeing lions, elephants, zebras and monkeys in the wild, glaciers in New Zealand, and sunsets in Santorini. When I turned 34, the clock was ticking loudly and I thought we better not waste any more time. But here’s where infertility hit without actually being an “infertile couple”. It just takes one person in the relationship to decide that kids were no longer in our future and bam…you can no longer make a baby. And that’s what happened. And during this time, I had my first experiences avoiding the comments…

”When are you going to have a baby?”

“You better not wait too long or you’ll miss your chance”

These questions and comments tore through my heart. I was now facing a decision of staying married with no kids or divorcing with the hope of still having them in the future. It was then, that I started realizing how hurtful these questions can be. I hadn’t even touched the surface of infertility at this point in my life, but this is when I realized, even hinting at parenthood could be a painful topic. I myself had been guilty of asking others these questions without any idea that it could be such a difficult topic.

I went through my 20’s avoiding pregnancy, and there I was in my early 30’s wanting a baby.   But now the person I had married was taking away an irreplaceable dream.   My high school sweetheart turned out not to be so sweet. This was the first time in my life I had to go through the grieving process of not being able to have a baby. By the age of 36, I was going through a divorce. I had no idea if I would marry again, have a baby, or if I would even have issues trying to get pregnant.   I remember thinking, “how could I possibly meet someone, fall in love, get engaged, get married and have a baby while I still actually have good eggs? Who knows how long this could take?”

A year and half went by between my separation, finalized divorce and magical eHarmony wink. And there he was. We went on one date and fell in love. So, that accelerated my imaginary timeline to baby quite a bit. Five months later we were engaged and a year and a half after meeting, we were married.   I was 38 when we got married. Let the baby making commence! Well…not so fast. We determined at the beginning of our relationship that we were one of those 1 in 8 couples. Three months after we were married we had our first round of IVF. In early January of 2013 I found out I was pregnant. Two days before my 39th birthday, I miscarried at 15 weeks. From there our story continued with a second miscarriage of twin girls and now I am moving toward our 8th embryo transfer at the age of 41. I’ve been married twice, yet I’ve never had the chance to try to conceive naturally.

I’m 41 years old and still trying to have a baby. But trying to conceive at 41, brings a lot of blessings in addition to the heartache. At 41, nobody asks anymore, “when are you going to have kids?” Nobody is on our case about having a baby.   Nobody says, “you better hurry up”. Baby showers become a rarity, since all of our friends already had one or two kids years ago. By the time 39 slipped away from me, baby making peer pressure that had previously existed, simply faded away.

Where that’s helpful when faced with infertility, it’s also scary because you start to realize that perhaps there’s no longer a reason for anyone to ask those questions. I worry that people may think we are crazy to try to have a baby so late in life.  Or may not even believe it is possible. While I see other women in their 20’s and 30’s going through the challenges and emotional pain of infertility, I realize in some ways I’m really lucky. When I was in my late 20’s and throughout my 30’s, all of my friends were having babies. But all this was happening at a time when I wasn’t faced with infertility and the pain associated with that journey. I went to a lot of baby showers and played a lot of baby shower games. I bought a lot of baby gifts. I could enjoy walking into a Baby Gap and buying some cute little outfits. I was able to be there with my friends not just for baby #1, but also for baby #2. And I loved all of it. I was able to be emotionally there for them and to watch their joy and feel their joy with them. I was able to be a friend and really care deeply about their move into mommyhood and was able to fall in love with all of their children. I have nieces and nephews that I love dearly, but I’m also an “Auntie” in several other households. I’m known as Aunt Cookie, Crispy, Auntie Chrissykins and Auntie Nasty. My husband even acquired the nickname, Uncle Cupcake this summer. I’ve been able to watch these kids grow up without the cloud of jealousy due to infertility. I didn’t have to back away from being a part of those growing families because I had just had a miscarriage or another failed embryo transfer. Those things didn’t start to happen until after my friends had their babies and for that, I am grateful.

I’m thankful that even though I’m doing this so late, those same friends are there to support me in my struggle. They are there to offer me words of encouragement when I can’t take the emotional pain anymore. They are understanding and allow me to follow my own path. They are compassionate. At this point in life, my good friends have had the life experiences to know what words to say or how to offer sympathy and kindness.  They have the strength to feel my grief with me.

While I never expected to wait so long to have kids of my own, I have had a journey that has changed my life. It has taught me how to survive deep emotional pain and grief and allowed me to support others in their journey as well. Through all the heartache, it has taught me that hope and faith still do exist. I haven’t given up yet. I’m still waiting for my baby…but oh, does it feel like the longest wait ever.

Photo by CJE – Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Two Year Anniversary, Missing Jaxon

Jaxon 1 year flowers2 Jaxon 1 yr flowersToday is the two year anniversary of losing our baby Jaxon. I think the worst of the memories and heartache hit me last week and over the weekend. We spent all day Saturday planting flowers and it was a great way to distract myself and enjoy the time with my husband. It was good for us to both have some beautiful, bright colors to look at. And in the midst of all of our planting, we discovered that when our dog gets to spend that much time in the yard slightly unsupervised, she loves to dig. I gave her a treat and she spent so much time digging holes, burying it, unburying it, digging again…and again…and again. It was hysterical to watch because she would dig the shallow hole with her paws, and then bury the treat with her nose. Lots of pig-like snorting going on. A simple, sunny day in the yard was just what we needed.

That got me through Saturday, and then Sunday was just downhill all over again. Anniversaries of tragic events have a way of physically and emotionally consuming you from the inside out. I find that I have to face it head on, in order to move through the day in hopes of being stronger at the end of it. Today is a day we will honor his memory, but I’m just not sure how we want to do that yet. But first I will write.

After losing Jaxon, we had him cremated. As heartbreaking as it was to pick up his ashes, I had quite an amazing moment right in that instant. The man that we had worked with from the funeral home was named Alan. Which instantly gave me some peace, as that was my Dad’s name. Alan. And everyone called my Dad, Al. And we had named our son Jaxon Alan. We met Alan, the funeral director outside of a service that was just beginning. As my husband and I walked up to him, someone else was walking up to another man, saying “Hi Al.” I felt like I was surrounded by “Al” and I felt my Dad’s spirit washing over us at the moment we were handed our son’s ashes. I couldn’t bring myself to share this realization out loud to my husband until we had been sitting in the car for a while together. But as soon as I started to tell him, he said, “Yes, I know, I heard it too.”

My husband and I decided to spread Jaxon’s ashes in the ocean near our home. I was out for a walk one evening and decided to take a short detour off of my normal route. It was there I discovered a giant rock with the number 13 painted on it right by the water. And I realized this was the place we needed to spread his ashes. My husband has a birthday on the 13th. Jaxon was supposed to be born on September 13, 2013. The number 13 just jumped out at me. So this was the place.   It just felt right.

We decided to pick a song to play when we spread his ashes.   There was a song that repeatedly played on the radio that summer and although we had not yet shared this with each other, it turned out both of us thought of Jaxon every time we heard it. It was “Gone, Gone, Gone” by Phillip Phillips. My husband and I climbed up on the rocks and we waited for the best wave to come up and help take his ashes away. And it was all so perfectly timed with the water and the words in the song. So perfect in fact, that we felt our baby with us so strongly in that moment. After we let him go, we just stood there on the rocks holding each other.

https://youtu.be/oozQ4yV__Vw

On the one year anniversary, we returned to our number 13 rock. My husband created a little bouquet of flowers from our yard and we placed them there. This is the photo you see with this post.

Today, 2 years later, we continue to love you, adore you and miss you…our baby Jaxon. Your heart forever in ours. Love, Mommy and Daddy.

Photos by CJE

Chance #3/31: Day 2 (1/16/15) Stepping Forward

footprint imageI was feeling stable and strong showing up to my Dr. appointment on Friday for the baseline ultrasound to start our next embryo transfer cycle. I was looking forward to seeing my doctor and the familiar faces around the clinic. I was happy to get this baby-making project started again. I thought I had sufficiently put my recent pregnancy loss behind me (at least for the sake of getting through this appointment) and was focused on the forward march ahead. But then I saw a glimpse of the nurse down the hall who was with us in the room the day we saw our twins at the end of their short little life…and it all came rushing back. And then I was escorted to the exam room, where the site of the ultrasound television screen nearly brought me to tears. The last image I saw there was of complete stillness and shook me to the core and left me devastated. But I put a smile on my face and held it together as I shook my Dr’s hand and responded with “yes” and a smile to his question, “have you had enough time to refill your emotional tank?” The ultrasound showed that everything was fine. I had my blood drawn by a very sweet and friendly nurse where we had a chance to giggle. I asked her how best to break down scar tissue and referred to this as my “butt injury” as my glute muscles have still not recovered from all the intramuscular injections from the previous cycle and pregnancy. I had my new injection schedule in hand, and I walked away from the building focused on the next step with some hope in my heart.

Here we go…

Chance #3/31: Day 1

beach sunsetAnd so it begins…After waiting and waiting following my D&C (almost 2 months ago), I finally started a new cycle.  Tomorrow I have a baseline appointment at our fertility clinic to start another frozen embryo transfer cycle.  Medications, needles, syringes, gauze pads, alcohol swabs, sharps container and a dash of hope are ready to go.

Photo by CJE

Faith, Hope and Dreams

blogentry 10photoYesterday was a really hard day for me. I was exhausted and in tears most of the evening. My husband and I had a long talk about hope and faith and not giving up.  His words have stayed with me today and this is what I heard him say…

While you feel you have lost hope,

It is not gone.

I am holding it for you.

While you search for faith,

I will keep mine close.

I will wait for you.

While you see darkness

I can see a baby in your arms.

I will save this dream until yours is no longer broken.

Photo by CJE – Peru

The Middle

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I’m stuck in the middle of this empty place

Where dreams were stripped away

And I can’t figure out how to say goodbye

To reach the end of a beginning that had so recently started

It simply slipped away before my heart could comprehend it was gone

Stuck in this middle place where it’s too soon to see the next beginning

And my mind doesn’t yet believe in starting over

So I will just stay here for awhile in between places

Until the emptiness is replaced by hope

Photo by CJE – Peru