I remember the moment I realized just how far down the rabbit-hole I had gone with our attempts to make our baby. I had been feeling off all week, knowing I was likely pregnant, but unwilling to take a pregnancy test yet as my beta was days away. I had been down this path before. When I was pregnant with my son, walking gave me asthma attacks. I had difficulty breathing at times and it always felt like my heart was racing. The same thing was happening now, only at a less hectic pace. My intuition told me this pregnancy wouldn't stick around even if it was positive.
My husband, Mark, was on his way to our rental property to check on the progress of our tenant move-out. We had been anticipating this day for a while as their willingness to pay on time or communicate had come to a stand-still.
The phone rang. It was Mark. "Tia this place is a complete disaster. Can you get off of work? Bring all the cleaning supplies and garbage bags we have with you. Oh, and gloves. HEAVY gloves. It's not good."
What if I AM pregnant? I shouldn't be around heavy chemicals and lifting a lot of stuff, right?
I took a test.
At the end of the three-minute mark, the second line finally popped up but I didn't believe it.
Last time it was blazingly positive as soon as my pee hit the stick.
I started shaking, knowing I needed to help Mark. Knowing I was sort of pregnant.
I looked up at the bathroom mirror and didn't recognize my face. I couldn't really remember the last time I really took note of how I looked. All I saw this time was fear. Sunken eye sockets.
Long, unkempt hair that limped around my temples. Dry, chapped lips.
I tugged at the bottom of my shirt. It was more snug than it used to be.
All the IVF medications injected into my body over the last couple of years didn't really make a dent in my weight, but my miscarriage did, and I never really put any effort to try and get the weight off since I insisted we dive right back into another cycle.
The cycle I was currently in. The one that took all year to complete because I just couldn't bring myself to accept this journey was over. I wasn't going to be a mom. I wouldn't be getting the biological baby I worked so hard for. The one I poured every second of every day into achieving for the last six years.
I had become this lifeless, exhausted, pale person.
Is this who I was going to be if I became a mom?
Is this how I was planning to show up for my child?
Is this the person my husband saw?
Is this my life now?
Because it sure wasn't who Mark married. And it sure as Hell wasn't the same person that started trying to make a baby in 2012.
What. the fuck. happened?
I'll tell you what happened. I took my Type A personality to the extreme, dove in head first, and went all in on the bigger life goal I wanted. I held myself hostage to keep fighting.
I pushed aside everything single thing that wasn't TTC related because I believed it was just background noise. Not worthy of my time.
I chose not to invest money into my appearance, my clothes, or my self-care routines if it meant there was more money for IVF.
I chose not to connect with friends, family or even Mark because there was so much research to complete in between clinic phone calls.
I was restricted from working out, my main source of relief in an already chaotic world, so became restless and irritated with no tangible outlet.
I stopped planning weekends, trips or parties. The only planning I was doing was for every possible due date. When maternity leave may take place. What I needed to save for baby. Which daycare would I choose?
Projects on hold.
Hobbies on hold.
Fun on hold.
LIFE. ON. HOLD.
I lost everything that made me ME in the process of baby-making, and that last early miscarriage was my tipping point. I wanted to take the reigns back on my life and the only way to do is was to stop the addicting cycle of TTC. For me, it was all or nothing. So I finally chose to walk away.
Having gone through the wringer in a way that didn't serve me well, here are some alternatives if you find yourself more aligned with how I went through IVF.
It's necessary to come up for air between cycles. If you find yourself needing more than one IUI or IVF cycle, there is NOTHING wrong with taking time between them to actually lean into and process your emotions. In fact, I would encourage it. This in-between is an excellent time to reconnect with your partner, plan a fun outing, reconnect with your friends and family or simply pick-up the hobbies you love.
Your reproductive system isn't going to turn to dust if you don't commit to back-to-back cycles.
I always felt like time was against me. As if my eggs were going to shrivel up if the clinic didn't suck them all out of me as soon as possible. The reality is; there will always be more money if this is what you choose to spend it on. There will always be a reputable clinic available for your next cycle. Your biological clock may be ticking but it's not the frantic downhill slope that outsiders may lead you to believe.
Set a budget for self care and use it. I completely understand that fertility treatments can trump any and all available money you have. Of that amount, I encourage you to set aside a monthly or quarterly budget for things that make you feel good. Whether it's a new outfit, a hair cut, a massage, a book, ANYTHING that reminds you of the badass woman you are is money well spent, in my opinion. Set it aside and DIP INTO IT.
Write it out. Whether it's in a journal, on a blog or simply a series of calendar invites to yourself with details of the day, documenting your days before, during and after treatment give a sense of clarity to just how long each season has been going on. I try to highlight the fun stuff AND the trying stuff because to me, it's ALL important and worthy; equally.
Be honest with yourself. What IS the goal of this? What IS the bigger picture? Do you want to become a mom to a child or to your biological child? Would an alternative route be more suited for you? What do you miss about life before TTC? How's your mental state? Do you think you just need guidance or do you think you have exhausted your boundaries? This type of honest gut-check is crucial to evaluate your quality of life. I would recommend doing it every few months or at the very least, yearly, based on where you're at in your journey.
Thanks for reading :)