Monday, July 29, 2019
The act of labor is a powerful act of creation. The effort it takes both body and mind to bring a new soul into this world is unparalleled. It is not for the faint of heart. It is difficult, but it has a wisdom all it's own, and I realized through conversation with a friend recently that it is rich with lessons that can guide us through this infertility journey we are all on.
As you may know from my last post, none of the embryos we created from our donor in the Ukraine this June made it to blastocyst stage due to sperm issues, which was a crushing blow. Right after I received the news, I jumped into "doing" mode to fix it. I researched new clinics, had skype interviews several times a week with doctors, and contacted my local ivf doctor about ways to improve sperm quality. I got lab orders for tests we needed, got medical records sent to the new clinic, and arranged all the travel for my husband to head overseas for our next attempt. This was all incredibly time consuming and each task felt so urgent. So what have I been doing since I sent my husband off to do his part? Well, I've done.... drumroll....nothing. Absolutely nothing. I haven't contacted the doctor to see how things went. I haven't done any research about fertility topics. I haven't created any new fitness/health routines to prepare me for transfer. I haven't looked at any fertility forums. I haven't obsessed about this round of ivf or worried about the outcome.Some days I've actually forgotten about it most of the day. I've literally done nothing.
Anyone who knows me will tell you this is a huge departure from how I've handled my fertility cycles in the past. Waiting periods felt endless, and I filled the time with mental and emotional busyness. I was constantly on fertility forums. I was always coming up with plans to improve my fertility and health to be ready for treatment. I was always, always stressed, worried, or sad, and I never stopped thinking about my fertility. I think I felt somehow that putting anything less than 110% of my effort and heart into every minute of every day was in some way giving up on my child, or communicating to the universe that I wasn't completely committed to him/her. That somehow my level of emotional pain and stress proved my dedication and worthiness to having this baby; as if I could just will him/her into existence through the sheer act of wanting. Maybe that makes sense to you as you read this, maybe I sound crazy, but in a process that has often felt so out of my control, all the planning, and researching, lifestyle modifications, thinking, obsessing, and worrying made me feel like I was DOING something to bring my child here. As my conversation with my friend turned to childbirth though, I gained some insights and realized that my approach needed modifying. I know childbirth can be a touchy subject for an infertility blog, but let me explain.
I am blessed to have a son via IUI who is three, but bringing him into this world wasn't easy. I went into labor on a Wednesday night, and he didn't arrive here until Friday morning after 42 hours and considerable effort. I discovered though that contrary to the movie version of labor, giving birth is not as chaotic as it seems, and actually has a predictable rhythm to it. Periods of intense effort, pain, and discomfort are followed by periods of rest, relaxation, and yes.. even sleep! This cycle repeats itself over and over until at long last one final push brings the baby into our arms. And that is how it has to be, because to exist in a constant state of effort during a long, drawn out labor wouldn't be possible. The body would tire, the mind would fatigue and rebel, and we would hinder our own efforts. As much as I wanted to meet my son, I had to flow with the rhythm of effort-rest-effort-rest in order to bring him safely into this world.
We are all working to bring our children into this world right now. We are in labor here on our fertility journey. For many of us, it has been a long hard labor, with no end in sight. We understand the effort involved in our labor-we push, we cry, we hurt, we give our all. We are so good at working hard, but most of us don't recognize or embrace the part of labor that is rest, restoration, and renewal so that we have the courage and strength to carry on. Every act of guiding a new soul into this world us to honor birth's rhythm. There will be plenty of periods of pushing and heavy work- picking clinics, rushing to appointments, administering injections, going through egg retrievals, having transfers, surviving miscarriages- but there should also be the spaces in between where we allow ourselves a break. These periods are the two week wait, where we can actually... wait. Those times between cycles where we are grounded by a cyst, or a delayed period and all we can do is wait. Those times when we are recovering from a loss and need to give our bodies time to recover before we can start again. Those are the times in between contractions, where we can quiet our minds, rest our bodies, refill our souls with those things that bring us light and joy so that we can move into our next cycle prepared to push again.
So right now I rest here, in the space in between, secure in the understanding that rest is as deep and meaningful a way to prove my love and dedication to my baby as the effort is. Rest tells my baby that I have faith she is on her way. I am building my strength because I am certain of her arrival. I am preparing myself to receive her.