The Things She Carried

[inspired by Tim O’Brien’s novel, The Things They Carried]

She carried 758 needles, 170 suppositories of the vaginal variety, and hundreds of blood draws—she was told she had good veins, like that was some kind of prize to win. She was weirdly proud of her awesome veins, because in this game of carrying and dropping, losing and winning, there’s not much else to be proud of.

She carried 63 ultrasounds, some of them a routine check for follicles, some looking in vain for beating hearts, some checking to make sure “the products of conception” no longer existed inside of her.

She carried names of drugs she could barely pronounce—Menopur, Follistim, Ovidrel, Ganirelix, Intralipids, Lovenox, Prednisone.

She carried four IUIs, three IVFs, 66 follicles, 33 eggs and 20 embryos. Some of these embryos were placed back inside of her, and some never grew beyond a handful of cells. All were loved.

She carried lesions on her ovaries, cervix, uterus and bladder. She carried a blood clotting disorder called antiphospholipid antibody syndrome. She carried overactive natural killer cells, which weren’t really killing much except teeny-tiny embryos too little to fight for themselves.

She carried one laparoscopy attempt. One actual laparoscopy. Three egg retrievals. Two transfers. Two D & Cs.

She carried 1,938 miles of travel—from the house to the fertility clinic; from the clinic to work; from Philadelphia to Manhattan for surgery; from Philadelphia to Woodbury to visit what she hoped would be a miracle doctor; from Philadelphia to Woodstock to spend the day with a fertility visionary. She carried $726 in parking garage fees, and even one parking garage accident.

She carried Please Gods and plea bargains. She carried what-ifs and what-will-I-do-nows.

She carried special diets—no gluten, no dairy, no sugar, no air.

She carried the love of a good man, but she carried it clumsily and sometimes carelessly. She lashed out. She yelled. “Why can’t you carry any of this for me?” she wanted to know. There was no good answer to that question—he knew it and she knew it, and at the end of the day she was lucky to still be holding his heart.

She carried the memory of lost babies—three at last count. First was Gabriel. She lost him on the bathroom floor at work, and by the time she got to the hospital she was so bloody it looked like she was starring in a Carrie remake. Then there was Anna, who was confirmed genetically normal and therefore should have lived, but didn’t. Anna, who said au revoir to the world on Christmas day, but who would never open a single present. Finally, there was Baby B, a loss too new to even get a name.

She carried a persistence that even she admitted was insane. She carried advice from relatives, friends, acquaintances, the checkout lady at Target, wondering why she was doing this to herself, why she didn’t just give up. Stop this nonsense. Be happy for what you have. Halt. Cease and desist before you ruin yourself, your job, your marriage. And she did want to stop, she did. But she needed to try one last time. One more needle, one more blood draw, one more doctor. One more.

And now.

Now she carries a baby inside of her, a little girl, no bigger than a winter squash. She feels her kicks, taps and nudges, and they feel like hope. She still carries the what-ifs—so many what-ifs—but now she carries something else as well—trust. Trust that this is the soul she is meant to meet. She sings to her baby every night, hands on her belly, heart wide open as a summer sky: ‘twas grace that brought you safe thus far, and grace will lead you home.

59 thoughts on “The Things She Carried

  1. This made me cry. It is beautifully, authentically, poignantly written and true. I feel this entry to the core … minus the current little kicks in the belly. I am so sad for your losses and how and when those little loves were lost. Life can be so cruel.

    You do such a fabulous job of capturing the “secret” life, losses and realities of the infertile woman’s invisible struggles. Thank you for writing and sharing this. You have a gift!

    1. Aw, thank you so much for your kind words! I was definitely thinking of all of my infertile friends as I wrote this. That’s why I kept it in third person — because to me, this was about all of us. Xoxo.

  2. Love this. I’ve thought about adding up everything that I’ve done, but I fear it will make me ill, so I haven’t. I can’t wait to hear about the day you meet your baby girl finally. 🙂

      1. I went through my Dr visits the other day, and I’m at about 80. Feels like it’s been SOOOO much more than that!! I know there were some blood draws in there that I didn’t put on my calendar, but still thought it would have been well over 100. It really felt like I lived there for a while!

  3. This is moving, so beautiful. What an incredible post. Thank you so much for writing it and sharing it with us all. I really hope these little kicks we are finally feeling are the children we will hold at home in a few months. What a time of gratitude for both of us.

  4. You believe it or not, tears are rolling down my cheeks! This is the most touching post i have ever read. Feels like you are talking about each one of us friend!!. I am soo happy that the little princess is all healthy and kicking inside❤️. You deserve all the happiness!! Prayers XO

    1. Wow, thank you so much for your kind words! I definitely was thinking of all of you when I wrote this. We all carry so much, and it’s invisible, and so often unacknowledged. So I wanted to give a nod to all of us who are struggling or have struggled. Hugs to you and thanks again.

  5. Beautiful. The tears are rolling. I am sure I have told you before, you have a real talent for writing. xo

    1. Thank you, Josey! I’ve haven’t commented on your last two posts because I’ve been running around and traveling, but know that you have been in my thoughts a lot. Xo,

  6. I was thinking about this post today!. I was so mad today morning because of the number of pokes i have to get in the morning (Twice a day lovenox, 10 vials of blood for umpteen monitorings before my next weekly ivig infusion on monday Ouch!!). Suddenly i remember this post and started reading. I felt so relieved after reading this😊. Thank you!.

    1. Blah, I am so sorry you had to so many needle jabs this morning! The twice a day Lovenox gets old, doesn’t it? But I am so, so glad my post offered you even a little relief. I just started following your blog and am looking forward to following your story!

      1. Your blog always inspired me and my husband!. Reading this blog gives us hope towards our autoimmune + blood thinner protocol which i am on now!. 2 lovenox pet day is pretty hard, but i am managing somehow!. Anything for the baby right?😊

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