Today I turn 32. A month ago I’d have told you life was just about to start. You see, I’ve logged the necessary decades growing up, and dutifully put one foot in front of the other through years of college semesters, grad school, backpacking trips, living abroad, internships, CPA exams and tax seasons. A couple years ago life finally slowed to a nice, easy pace for me and my happy husband, in our little house, with our low stress 9-5 jobs. This is where my life would start, I thought, especially when we start our family.
As you may have guessed, Ryan and I cancelled our IVF cycle, closing the door permanently on biological children. Since babies are no longer the Next Big Thing I am fumbling with the reality that life started 32 years ago and is already in full swing. Coming to terms with our infertility’s abrupt ending won’t happen overnight. Instead of reaching any kind of acceptance, I think these last couple weeks I’ve been grieving.
I read somewhere grief can be compared to stormy seas which will eventually be calm. Until then, the overwhelming sadness may come in waves, it may be choppy at times, manageable at others, but nonetheless unpredictable. There have been moments of sadness and moments of peace, and Ryan and I are taking it day by day.
There have also been some bright spots amidst the unfolding of events, though I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a silver lining: A very personal and validating email from the doctor saying she believes we made the right decision; A deeply heartfelt email from Pearl the RN, sharing she is adopted and encouraging us to look into that option; The vulnerable, tearful, rock-bottom conversations I’ve had with Ryan where we are reminded how insurmountably thankful we are to have each other.
We have each other, yes, in the middle of a bunch of no’s: No pregnancies, no IUIs, no IVF, no miscarriages (thankfully), no drugs (for me), and no other options. I mean, who’s infertitliy blog starts and ends in a matter of months? I cannot deny that with so many “no’s” God has been very faithful to us. We tried our hardest to pursue options, improve our situation, talk out all the ethics and what-ifs involved. Still, God heard our prayers for guidance, and He closed the door very firmly. For that I am thankful. For being spared the financial expense and the emotional burden of failed attempts and loss, I am thankful.
I’ve been telling people. First my mom, which didn’t go so well. She wasn’t aware that we’d even been trying to get pregnant, though she had her suspicions. Despite my efforts not to, I cried through the entire conversation. I’m not really a crier, so when I cry Ryan tears up. Mom’s final words were “well, you never know, I’ll do some research and who knows what will happen!” The unveiling of our situation was intended to be a conclusion, not an invitation to join a crusade. But I know my mom has to process this, too, and if she fails to see our decision as final, then I’ll deal with it then. Still, the whole thing was a bit of a shit show.
Next are my sisters, which will be easier. Leah’s been traveling the world, so she will get an email, and I’m always much better in writing.
I actually looked forward to unloading my burden on my oldest sister, Alexis, because she is no stranger to life’s unfairness. Alexis met her successful Christian husband at 18, married young, and later became a stay-at-home mother of 3 in a huge, beautiful house. While life appeared to be perfect, their oldest son, my nephew, has had a plethora of developmental issues. Alexis spent years homeschooling, researching and pursuing specialists. Finally, when my nephew was 13, an MRI revealed he was born without part of his cerebellum. It’s an extremely rare birth defect, and occurs entirely by chance. Doctors have not seen many cases, so we don’t really know what his future will look like, but his diagnosis is very severe.
Her advice on my childless state: Wait a year. Alexis said let the months roll on, the situation sink in, live and love, grieve, grow, and then see what’s on our hearts.
Before I made the call to officially cancel our cycle, I told Ryan I couldn’t do it without him promising first that we’d look into adoption. Not now, but after things have calmed down and we’ve gotten accustomed to this new reality, we’ll see if it’s for us. Throughout our infertility saga I have loosened my grip on pregnancy and biological children. It’s the never having a family that continues to bother me.
So here I am, 32. Life is off and running, and today it’s not so bad. I took the day off work and opted instead for Pilates, one of my all time favorite activities, and a warm kitty sleeping on me. The heater is running, it’s frigid and dreary outside, but that’s my preferred kind of weather. Just down the hall is a good man to spend my life with, and we have years stretching out ahead of us that have already begun to spin by. Perhaps there will be children in the future. For certain there will be days I desperately wish for a child with Ryan’s dimples and my discipline. Regardless, these are days and months and years we will never get back. Time to start soaking them up.