Why Me? Now What? (A Personal Journey Through Infertility)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Definition of Family.

So much to share, since during my absence this week SO much happened! Let's rewind to last Wednesday and start there.....

I had my first acupuncture appointment that afternoon... I was nervous and completely unsure of what to expect, but I was looking forward to it since I had heard about the benefits of pairing it with Western Treatments for Fertility.

It was in a word "wonderful". As it turns out, the woman that I am working with is also conducting a research paper right now WITH my doctor at the clinic on the merits of acupuncture with IVF! Apparently, I had been lead to someone that really understood what I was facing!

We talked for nearly 2 hours before she started the procedure... what did I eat in a typical day, what stress did I have in my life? Where had my journey through infertility brought me so far in traditional treatments? We talked about everything.. family, support, work, health... everything.

Finally the acupuncture session began. After checking out my tongue and saying it was dry and hairy (that CAN'T be a good thing) she checked my pulse and proceeded to place 12 needles across my body in strategic points. I really didn't feel them at all, but the ones on the right side made my body feel as though it was falling asleep!!!

After discussing what I hoped to accomplish by the use of acupuncture, she grabbed my hands and said, it is my job to get you pregnant, and to prepare your body to carry a baby to term. We will work with your clinic doctors to make that happen. She even felt she could decrease the size of my fibroids in time for my IVF cycle. YIPPPEEE!!! And we were off!

As I strutted around with a new found excitement on Thursday, I felt on top of the world. Could this be one of the effects of the treatment that afternoon before? If so... I loved it! Feeling so positive about where I was, and the path I was on, I decided to follow up with my family, whom I had earlier last week invited to a charity event on Friday. Strangely I hadn't heard anything from anyone I had invited... which was not typical of my tight community of aunts and cousins. The event being held on Friday was to be an awareness evening as well as fund raiser for a group called "Generations of Hope"... the event aptly named "Images of Hope" featured images of children captured in B/W photographs that were miracles of IVF treatments. In conjunction with the art show, there was a silent auction... I thought this was a perfect evening for my family to learn more about what we were going through, while still having it be a fun, relaxing evening.

In my new found zest for life, I called up my aunt... one that had always been a bit of a philanthropist... and often regarded as my second mother. She was a bit shocked to hear from me... I could tell that instantly when she picked up the phone. As I asked her if she had planned on coming Friday, I felt the coldness enter her voice. She simply couldn't "support" that "sort of thing" I was told... what sort of thing??? An art show? A wine and cheese reception? A silent auction? Surely that didn't make sense... but then it sunk in... she couldn't support IVF.

WOW...

After hanging up and feeling suddenly alone, I began to wonder if this was the reason I hadn't heard from other members of my family that had earlier seemed so "supportive" of our struggles. One by one as I called them, I received excuses and hesitations... no one willing to acknowledge what their dismissive attitudes were doing to my spirit.

So there it was... I was suddenly and swiftly off my high, and back to reality. Family could down right suck.

By the time Friday arrived, I found myself curled up on the bed even before Mike got home from work. When he walked in and found me there, he needless to say,was a bit confused; since he knew it was only an hour before we were scheduled to leave for the fund raiser. Sitting at the end of the bed we talked... about how disappointed I was in our families, how foolish I had felt to believe others would want to support us, how scared I was of the possibility that these people that claimed to love us would some how love our children less should they come into this world thanks to medical advancements.... I felt alone and tired of it all. Mike... what can I say? The man truly is my savior. He didn't tell me I was wrong for feeling that way, he didn't get up and sneak out of the room with the uncomfortablness of the situation... he simply gave me a hug, told me to get out of bed and said "this is WHY we need to go tonight.. and we ARE going".

So that was that... still a bit grumpy but willing to make the most of the evening, we ventured out in the snowstorm that had decided to make an appearance to make my evening all the more frustrating.

And that is when the mood shifted.

Even in the car as I watched these giant pillows of snow drop from the sky and melt as they hit the windshield, I felt my body calming. By the time we arrived at the gallery, even the slight argument about where to park simply rolled off my back... how was it possible to suddenly be so calm? I wasn't going to ponder it to long, in fear that I would snap back into the chaotic sadness I had felt hours before.

We walked through the doors to the gallery and felt a beautiful scent of gardenias... my favorite! It happened that a florist on the main floor of the gallery had decided to stay open late... and had bouquets of white flowers spilling out in the hallway... it smelt like heaven.

Smiling faces were everywhere... there seemed to be an excitement in the air that was contagious! Stopping first at the bar to have a glass of wine (Afterall, I could treat myself to a glass tonight couldn't I?) we were greeted by a girl passing out fancy hors d'ouevres.. "this WAS a good idea" I whispered to my husband as we helped ourselves to some smoked salmon crisps.

We entered the exhibit room first. It was breathtaking. Scattered across the walls, were images of children in the most delightful of situations. Each large portrait was accompanied by story. The story of the couple who's child was featured in the black and white print. Some were funny, some sad... but all were touching. Each one of the 22 stories felt as though that they could be mine. It was obvious, that IVF was something that touched people from all walks of life, and had a profound impact on may people. We were not alone.

After absorbing the impact of the photographs, and sneaking a couple more appetizers along the walk back upstairs, we arrived at the silent auction area that had been set up in the gallery. This was the major component of the fund raising efforts for the evening, and the 70+ items up for grabs were exciting! There was a Bugaboo Frog (but we already had one of those), spa certificates for ultimate pampering, a BMW Roadster peddle car for a toddler (which was TOOO cute), artwork, jewelry... and then... at the end of the long table... a certificate. At first it seemed somewhat understated, a simple sheet of paper in a clear acrylic stand... it could easily have been overlooked. But wait.... reading the words started to immediately increase the rate of my pulse... where was my acupuncturist now? (In fact she was in the room too, as she happened to be on the board of directors for the fund raiser!) "One Fresh IVF cycle complete with monitoring, lab work and medications" it read. Value: $10,000.00+.

"Mike" I nearly screamed... as I waved him over... we both stood and stared at the placard. Could we? Should we? We knew IVF was nearly a sure eventuality, and we WERE already on the waiting list... but here? Tonight? Without waiting for a response to my own questions, I grabbed the pen and scribbled the $4,500.00 bid needed to outbid the previous person on the line above.

Ok... breath... I needed to keep myself busy for the next 45 minutes until the auction was over. There was no point in hovering at this point and raising the price unnecessarily. I would come back in 40 minutes and hopefully not end up in a bidding war.

But 40 minutes later we came back to see the same name that we had previously out bid, had replaced their name below ours, raising the stakes by another $500.00. Back and forth it went... that last 5 minutes seeming to crawl along at a snail's pace. $5000.000... $6000.00... $7000.00.... and then it happened. The husband in the couple that had been bidding against us, came up to me, and said "We're out... you win, Congratulations and Good Luck". I could see the disappointment in his eyes, and knew that he was coming over to us as a spokesman for the couple when the woman was unable to do so. I turned and hugged him... it just seemed the thing to do. He seemed so genuine, and kind... and he really WAS happy for us. Although a little sad that we both hadn't "won" this opportunity... I was suddenly giddy with excitement.

Out of nowhere my doctor grabbed me and yelled CONGRATULATIONS!!! He is the director of our clinic, and had been instrumental in donating the cycle. It was so great to see him there! He then said one of the most inspsiring and hopeful things I could have heard. He simply said "with this, not only are you bringing your OWN child into the world, but you are allowing another couple the joy of a child as well". Since the funds from the auction were going directly back to families who required fertility treatment but could not afford it, I was helping someone in my shoes with less means. An overwhelming sense of pride and community took over, and I tried to take it all in without collapsing in tears.

As we gathered our coats and made our way to the exit, women I had never met stopped to congratulate us as the "lucky couple who had started their journey to a miracle"... they were genuinely happy for us... excited about the opportunities IVF provided, and proud of who we ALL were as people. THIS was the emotion I was so desperately looking for... and to think, it wasn't in my family that I found it. Or perhaps I did, but in a new family... a family of compassionate doctors, acupuncturists & friends new and old, that understood what it meant to long for parenthood. Sometimes family comes in different shapes, I am just blessed that I was open enough to accept them when it would have been easy to close off from the experience.

2 Comments:

  • You have me crying here. I'm so glad you won the IVF cycle. I'm so sorry your family isn't supportive though. I can't imagine how that must feel. Well I can with my IL's but not my parents. I'm glad you have such great doctors and nurses that you can consider family. It's so important to have that suppport system!

    By Blogger Shannon O., at 2:22 PM  

  • Your blog is awesome, I love how you have written every up and down not only for yourself but for others with and without infertiltity to see how it really feels for another person. I feel that God has blessed you with your chance with IVF and am praying you will get your BFP really soon.
    Praying for baby FF

    By Anonymous Jamie, at 6:44 AM  

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