In the past I have shared my struggle with infertility, miscarriages, and the journey to expand our family. The feedback I received from everyone was incredible. It is extremely difficult to be open about such a painful and personal obstacle. However, I have found that being honest and open with my situation, along with the support from my friends and family, has helped me find peace and strength in some of the darkest moments. It is in this spirit I have decided to share the latest chapter in my story.
A year ago we decided to try fertility treatments again while here in Korea, in the hopes of leaving this assignment with a baby in our arms (or my belly). We went "all in", enduring a myriad tests, hormones, three IUI procedures, waiting, disappointments, unanswered questions, surgery, waiting again, more unanswered questions, big needles, a lot more hormones, even bigger needles, and a lot more disappointment.
Late this past spring we were faced with the choice of doing IVF or not. To be honest I had secretly hoped we would never get to this point in our journey. IVF had always been the "nuclear option" for me in this process. I had been confident I would get pregnant before we had to consider IVF, I was sure of it.
So you can imagine how many tears were shed and how much prayer it took to finally embrace the reality of IVF being our next option.
So in the middle of June I went in for an egg retrieval procedure. Five days later I lay on an operating table staring at a screen with a picture of two fertilized embryos that were about to be transferred to my uterus. It was an unreal experience. Jeff happened to be on a trip for work during this whole process. Thankfully modern medicine allowed for him to do his "part" of the procedure before he left. I can tell you one thing is for certain, hormones and the hubby being gone during the stress of IVF is not a good look for me. I think there may or may not have been a time I wished technology allowed for me to reach through face time and punch Jeff in the face. I mean come on; if modern science could allow us to create life while he was half way across the world surely someone could have come up with a way to teleport through an app.
On a side note, I was so lucky to have my amazing friend Morgan with me during my appointments. She, and her husband Tim, were a wonderful support while Jeff was gone and while I endured the dreaded two-week wait to see if the procedure was successful. I am a strong believer that God knows what he is doing when He places people in your life. Being an Army wife and living far from family, your friends become your family. We are so blessed to have the O'Bryant’s in our life, and I will be forever grateful to not have been alone during the time Jeff was in the states.
Thankfully, Jeff returned in time for us to learn that the procedure had worked and we were finally pregnant again. I was overjoyed and so relieved, it had been an arduous three years leading up to this moment. However, there was still a sense of cautious optimism. We had been down this path before and I knew there was a long road ahead. Even though I knew the possibilities, I was so thankful to be pregnant and tried to embrace and enjoy every minute.
In August, I headed to the states to help with my family for a few months. I went to the Drs at 8-weeks and saw a little heart beating on the screen. I don't think I had ever felt that much joy before in my life. Although I was ecstatic to be pregnant, I still approached with cautious optimism. We only told our family and a few friends, but looked forward to being able to let the world know how happy we were and to share in our joy.
On September 4th I went in for my 12-week ultrasound feeling excited about reaching a milestone. Unfortunately, I was given the news that there was no sign of a heartbeat. Everything seemed to turn upside down in that moment. I remember leaving the office and sitting in the parking lot trying to stop crying long enough to call Jeff and let him know what had happened. It was the worst phone call I have ever had to make. Our world was once again shattered and the all too familiar feeling of helplessness overwhelmed me.
I have spent the past two months surround by a thick grey fog. It was a barrier keeping me from facing the past, enjoying the present, and embracing the future. The fog was a shield of my own making, something I created to protect me from the actuality of what the past two months have meant. I thought it would allow me to hide out from reality and become as invisible as I desperately wanted to be.
I hadn't really been able to put my finger on why I was struggling so much with this miscarriage. I knew this could happen. I had remained cautious and guarded, almost bracing myself for it to happen. It wasn't until Jeff and I were talking about it last week that I was able to really articulate what I had been feeling. Yes, I knew that I could lose the baby. Yes, I hadn't allowed myself to get openly excited about having a baby quite yet. But going into that 12-week ultrasound I thought that was all about to change. I had made it longer than any other pregnancy; I hadn't had any major bleeding or cramping like I did with the others. I felt pregnant and was thinking of how I would let everyone know how excited we were to finally be having a baby. I thought I would leave that appointment with a cute little picture of my baby, and everything would change for the better. I really didn't even imagine that I would leave broken hearted. What was different this time? As much as I told myself that I was prepared for unpleasant realities, I was completely blindsided by the news. I was absolutely devastated and the only thing I wanted to do was hide out from the world. I wanted to bury myself self so deep in the fog of sorrow that I would almost become numb to it.
The funny thing about the fog is that while it kept me from experiencing the world around me it didn't stop the world from turning. No matter how many times I chose to hit the "I don't want to see this" button on happy Facebook posts, or how many times I avoided situations where people were having fun, it didn't keep them from happening. Joy happened, fun happened, life happened, and I was missing out on it.
The past week, with Jeff's help and support (he has had to practically had to physically drag me out of my funk), I have worked really hard to clear away the barriers I put up two months ago. I'm beginning to look for positives in our IVF process. I'm allowing myself to share in the joy of others again. I am even looking at the path ahead with a little wonder and excitement.
Yes, our journey has been long, it has been painful, but it isn't over. There are still options for us, and there are still chances to expand our family. There are lessons to be learned from the past, moments to enjoy in the present, and faith that the future is bright. There is joy to be had, there are prayers to be answered, and there are still miracles that await us.