This summer, after three IVF cycles over a one year period with no viable embryos to transfer and my third pregnancy loss (naturally conceived), we discovered that I also had balanced translocation in addition to my age/egg quality issues. We decided that my age combined with my chromosome issue made continued IVF a very expensive gamble that we weren't willing to take. The odds were just too low, and the doctors were clear that donor egg was my only realistic option. In the months that have followed I have been working on coming to terms with letting go of a genetic connection with my next baby and embracing donor eggs, but I'm still in the grieving process and I'm not quite ready to move on. I've done some low tech IUI cycles this fall and winter, and this month we tried a medicated timed intercourse cycle. Most days telling this story of repeated failures and broken dreams would leave me in tears, but today I feel positive and optimistic. Why? It's because it's only day three of the TWW. The first four or five days are my sweet spot and I'm always pretty upbeat. I let myself feel free to believe that the cycle was a success and that I'm pregnant. The pregnancy test is far enough in the future that I know I won't have to face any evidence to contradict my belief. I'm dreaming of rainbows and riding high on hope! (week two of the TWW is a different story, but that's another post for another time).
So today, I want to showcase hope and pay tribute to some of the amazing women who have helped spark and sustain hope in me during difficult times. All of these women have been incredibly brave in sharing their moments of pain with the world in order to uplift others who are struggling. Each woman has a unique story, and has come to motherhood in a slightly different way. They have all made it to the other side of infertility, and are here to light a way for those of us still in the dark night of that path. I hope that in their stories and successes all of you are able to be inspired and find strength.
1)Meet Julia Idichova. Her story is one of conception against all odds, and she has been a strength and guide for me since the very start of my journey. Julia's story was similar to mine: advanced maternal age, low AMH, high FSH, mother of one child yearning for a second. Julia documents her struggle to conceive in her book Inconceivable: A Woman's Triumph over Despair and Statistics, where she tells of being turned away from IVF clinics because of her high FSH. Julia proceeds to explore a variety of options from IUI to surrogacy to alternative healing experiences. After making sweeping changes to her diet and lifestyle and lowering her FSH, she eventually goes to see one more specialist hoping for a better outcome. Spoiler alert: Julia was never treated by the specialist. He ordered a pregnancy test at the first appointment and she actually discovered she was pregnant naturally. Julia is now the mom of two grown girls, and the founder of the Fertile Heart community. She says that her journey was, "A pilgrimage that led me to re-claim my fertility in the most awe-inspiring way", and she wants us to be able to do the same. Her website has links to her books, visualizations, a host of success stories, and much more. Julia encourages us to trust in our intuition and to believe in the power we have within to improve our fertility.
2)The second woman I'd like to celebrate is Maya Grobel. This woman is badass. She pursued her dream of parenthood fiercely, tore down every barrier she came up against, and is now the mom of a little girl via embryo donation after a 4 1/2 year battle with the infertility beast. I recently discovered her this past week while watching the Netflix documentary One More Shot. I would recommend watching this 100 times over. Maya and her husband Noah allow us into their infertility struggle with so much vulnerability and authenticity that we come away inspired to honor our pain instead of turning from it in shame. I laughed with her, I cried with her, I hoped with her, and I rejoiced with her. In addition to her Netflix documentary she also has a blog called Don't Count your Eggs.
3)Last but not least- Camille Preston. Camille's TED Talk: A Journey Through Infertility: Over Terror's Edge resonated so deeply with me. Just like most of us, she "coveted motherhood at such a cellular level". She talks about the mounting intensity of effort and energy after each failed cycle, the rising desperation, and finally, learning to surrender control. She shared how multiple failed rounds of IVF "kicked my tail and nearly broke me". She didn't break though- after 8 rounds of IVF she welcomed a child into the world. Camille's willingness to jump into the depths of longing, loss, and pain helped strengthen her sense of self and opened her up to a deeper and richer life experience. Camille is inspiration for all of us living "on terror's edge.
Happy Sunday everyone. Have a wonderful hope filled week!!