IVF # 1: Game On

[image credit]

IVF is officially underway. I took my first birth control pill today (I will never get over the irony that in order to get pregnant with IVF, you need to take birth control pills), and I’ll be on those for 2.5 weeks. I also had a baseline ultrasound this morning. Apparently, I have 20 follicles total. For anyone reading that’s not a fertility nerd: follicles are the sacs that house the developing eggs. For anyone reading who’s been through IVF: Do you know if 20 follicles at baseline is an indicator that I’ll get around 20 eggs at retrieval?

On that note, I just wanted to warn my real-life friends and family reading ye olde blog that I might be getting super technical on here over the next few weeks. Here’s why: one, because I am a fertility nerd and I love the the nitty-gritty details of the process, and two, because it has been helping me to read others’ in-depth IVF experiences. So if I can help anyone who comes after me, score! Anyway, just throwing that out there. I hope you beautiful people keep reading, but if you need a break from the ovary talk, I totally get it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the word surrender lately. Last week, as the reality of actually beginning IVF drew near, I started freaking out. I thought I was totally ready up until that point. But then, I don’t know. I started thinking, holy hell, what if I go through all of this and it doesn’t work? What then? I mean, I always knew it might not work, but as the start date got closer, it really began to sink in. I actually questioned, for the first time, if we should be doing this at all. I wondered if we should just give up instead of facing that potential disappointment.

I think at the root of all that freaking out is the fact that I have no control over this process. All I can do is take the right meds at the right time and show up for my appointments. The rest is up to God or the Universe or whatever else you believe in. If it was all up to science, IVF would work every single time the numbers were favorable and the conditions were good. But it doesn’t. Sometimes, there are perfect embryos, but no pregnancy. Sometimes a couple seems to have no chance, yet somehow, it works.

Everything in me wants to fight this lack of control. I want to take IVF and bend it to my will. I want to make it work. But I can’t. The only thing fighting will do is make me crazy.

My therapist, who is this super-spiritual hippie type, often tells me that she believes each soul chooses their path before being born because of the lessons they need to learn in that lifetime. I’m not sure what I believe about all of that, but I do find her words comforting. It makes me stop and think: What do I need to learn from this process? Even if IVF doesn’t work, how can it enrich my life, make me a better person?

And, most importantly, what can I gain by just letting go and seeing what happens? I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that I have nothing to lose either.

So here I go.

This is me, surrendering.

Meeting Your Child Halfway: A Fertility Workshop

If you’ve been reading this blog since the beginning (and if you have, I love you, mwah!), you might remember me mentioning Julia Indichova. She is the author of two books, Inconceivable and The Fertile Female, both of which I read and loved when I was trying to get pregnant with Lettie. The short version is that Julia had trouble conceiving her second child and a billion specialists told her that getting pregnant would be medically impossible without donor eggs. She was 42. For the next eight months she changed her diet, tried every alternative treatment in the book and, most importantly, in my opinion, focused on the mind-body connection. She basically used her longing to have a child to change her life for the better. Eight months later, she was pregnant—completely naturally—and carried that pregnancy to term.

For the past twenty years, she’s been teaching what she learned on her fertility journey through workshops and phone sessions. This past weekend, I got the chance to attend one of those workshops. It was called Meeting Your Child Halfway: An All-Day Workshop With Julia Indichova. The all day thing was no joke—it started at 11 am and ended at 6:30 pm.

When Tim and I pulled up to her house in Woodstock, New York, I had no idea what to expect. Upon arrival, Julia had us take off our shoes and then escorted us into her studio. Inside, the floors were covered in carpet and oriental rugs. The walls were decorated with birth announcements. Outside the high windows, I caught wisps September-blue sky. 14 other people sat in a semi-circle—four solo women and five other couples. Julia separated the couples—eek!—so I was on my own. Tim was all the way across the room.

Shit got weird really fast. First we observed a moment of silence. Ok, cool. No big deal. Then Julia said, “Ok, you’re going to repeat after me. Do exactly as I say and do.” She started waving her hands and moaning. She covered her face. She whimpered. It was awkward city.

Then she said, “I don’t want to be in a workshop.”

And we said, “I don’t want to be in a workshop.”

“I just want a fucking baby,” she said.

“I just want a fucking baby,” we said.

At this point everyone was laughing, and even though we’d just had to endure seemingly endless minutes of moaning and moving like we were in some sort of improv warm-up, the ice was broken.

Next we went around and introduced ourselves. Immediately people started crying. Crap, I thought. What have I gotten myself into? I’m kind of an anti-crier, at least in front of other people, especially in front of strangers.

But guess what? After those initial introductions, I had tears in my eyes the whole time. Tim did, too. There was just something about being in a room of people who were all experiencing similar things. It felt safe. For once, I didn’t feel the need to justify or defend my dream to add another child to our family. Every single person there got it. Some were trying for their first child, some their second. Some had unexplained infertility, some low sperm count. It didn’t matter. Every single person wanted the exact same thing.

The day consisted of visualizations, one-on-one exercises, body movement (which Julia calls “body talk”) and even a lullaby. Picture a room full of people who want nothing more than to get pregnant, signing a lullaby to their unborn children. Only a robot would not tear up in that situation. Just sayin’.

Julia had a lot of great things to say. One of them was that it’s ok to not think positive all the time. “As a society,” she said, “we’re in danger of positive thinking ourselves to death.” She said that we should let ourselves feel the negative emotions—rage, cry, be jealous, get pissed off, whatever—but at the end of the day we should be moving forward in what she calls the current of the truth and life. Those emotions should be felt, but it doesn’t serve us to get stuck in them. This was such a relief for me. There’s a lot of mumbo-jumbo out there in infertility land that says you must think positive or else. I got sucked right on into that—I would often feel guilty for not being able to think positively every second of every day.

I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty details of exactly what we did. And even if I tried, I don’t think I would do it justice. Bottom line, though? The workshop was pretty amazing. It was just what my soul needed at that time, on that day. I left there feeling clear-headed and hopeful. I felt alive. I felt, with certainty, that my baby was waiting for me, some day, somewhere.

And yes, I am totally ready to meet him or her halfway.

Lunching in Woodstock before the workshop.
Lunching in Woodstock before the workshop.
country 1
Living the country life at our B & B.

Letter To My Little Lady: You Are Two

You, at two.

Dear Little Fish,

People talk up the terrible twos, but I don’t really see it. Yeah, you’re a wild woman and you have tantrums on the sidewalk and today I’m pretty sure you hit your dad in the face on purpose. But I’m still loving this age of yours. Lately you’ve developed a little devil smile where you scrunch your eyes and show all your ten teeth. That basically erases my mind every time I see it. Tantrums? What tantrums?

You talk in 3-4 word sentences now, and you talk a lot. If you’re awake, you’re jabbering. You say funny things like, “neck-a to me,” instead of “next to me.” You’re also learning empathy and emotions. When I was upset the other day, you put your face up close to mine and said, “You sad, Mama?” Then you offered me your blankie. Which I accepted, obviously.

You can count to thirteen and sing your ABCs. You’re just beginning to play pretend. Last night you told me that you were a tiger. According to you, tigers caw like birds and walk like drunk little girls.

Holding hands is your thing right now. Having your picture taken is not. You’ll dutifully say “cheeeese,” but then glare at the ground in protest. When you get really excited, you raise your hands above your head with your elbows bent and shake your arms. With your curly hair all askew and your arms going like crazy, it looks like you are calling thunder down from the sky or demanding answers from the universe.

After I put you in your crib each night I say the same words I’ve said to you every night since you were born: “Good night, sweet girl. I love you to the sky and back.” Sometimes, after I close the door to your room and leave you babbling to yourself, I’ll stand in the hall for a minute, grinning like an idiot. How on earth, I’ll think, is it possible that this goofball is actually mine?

A few weeks ago my friend Shannon sent me two boxes of inspirational quotes. Each quote is printed on a tiny card. Naturally, you’ve decided that these boxes are yours. You love to rearrange the cards. You also like scattering them on the floor like confetti and hiding them about the house. I don’t mind–it’s fun to discover random sentiments in the hallway or underneath my nightstand, almost as if you left them there just for me.

Tonight I found one on my bedroom floor. The quote inside said, “Thou hast seen nothing yet.”

No, my spirited Little Fish, I don’t believe I have.