On IVF: Advice One and Onlys And gratitude

Lilies and Lambs

This past week was a great one.

Maddie was happy and healthy and back to school. We returned home from a family trip, and I’m currently packing our little family up for another one. I shared some thoughts on why I started this blog: both here and on my Instagram.

And I was touched by how many messages I received- that so many of you are going through the same journey; that most of you didn’t realize this was our story.

And it got me thinking about how infertility and TTC is tied into Lilies and Lambs.

It's why I started this space, but yet sometimes gets overshadowed by clothing sales, and local events and kids’ activities and favorite family restaurants. Particularly in those months when I’m not currently eating Estrogen or receiving Progesterone injections. And while I like sharing all those other beautiful things with you- the other side, the struggle and the triumphs of infertility- those are important, too.

They’re a part of me and my family and our beautiful story. And I want to continue to share them from time to time.

So because this week in particular got me reflecting on our experience, and thinking about where to go from here, I thought I’d share a few thoughts I’ve been having on infertility:

  1. On advice to couples considering IVF:

    Recently in an interview, when I was asked to give advice to couples thinking about going through IVF, I shared that, sadly, I don’t have a  great amount of advice to give to people considering the process. It’s such a sensitive subject. And, to this day, I myself still don’t know when we will embark on our fifth round- assuming that we do. Even that is up in the air at the moment. For a variety of reasons. But mainly because it just doesn’t feel right to me right now. Which brings me to the only piece of advice I do have on this specific matter, and so many others when it comes to motherhood- trust your gut; our intuition is a strong and mighty thing.

  2. On advice to couples going through IVF:

    This is one I feel a bit more comfortable discussing; in fact, I could probably go on and on and on. I wrote so much about this {here} fresh into motherhood- a year or so after our first round of IVF. And so much of it still rings true to me. All these years later. Infertility in general can make us feel lonely and afraid. It can make us doubt our bodies, particularly for us women. It can strengthen relationships, while weakening others. It can make you consumed and mad and a little bit crazy. Or, in my case, a lot a bit crazy. But in the end, you’ll realize your strength. So when you’re in the thick of it, I’d say this: be patient. Let yourself feel what you need to feel. Be as selfish as you need to be and as patient as you can be with yourself, and your partner. And find a doctor that you trust- one that’s smart as a whip, but that you’d want to take to coffee. Because this process is nothing if not personal- and your doctor can deliver the best news of your life, and some of the most heartbreaking. So make sure the voice on the other end of the phone is the one you want to hear it all from- the good, the bad and everything in between.

  3. On being “one and done”:

    I never, ever, in a million years thought I’d have just one. I’m the oldest of four. I love my siblings like no other. I couldn’t possibly imagine life without them- without our big, loud, insane family. But in the past few years, so many things have chipped away at the notion that I need to have more- and its not just the struggles and challenges; but some of the triumphs and successes, too. 

    And for the first time, this past week, Madeline was referred to as an only child. A few times, in fact.  Not in any sort of negative way; but more as a matter of fact: “Oh, she’s an only child?XYZ is the perk of having an only child.” “Oh, she’s your only.” The latter being a statement, not really a question.

    And I felt oddly comfortable with it- all of these different ways of putting it- perhaps for the first time.

    Prior to this week, I had never heard anyone refer to my daughter as an only child. Typically I’m asked: when will you have another? Or I’m met with phrases like: when you get pregnant again or when she’s a sister.

    But it made me abundantly clear of the fact that I might just be outside the window of people thinking Maddie might get a sibling someday. She’s three and a half. And in this town- with the vast majority of my peers- people seem to knock those babies out.  And I wanted to be like them, too; to have that double stroller. But with each passing year, that idea seems farther and farther away. And I’m recognizing that what I wanted for so long, what I might still want, may not be my reality.

    And its growing on me. Day by day.

    And instead of peering over the other side of the fence and thinking about how great it would be if there were two here, now. I have to think about all the things I love about having our one- just the one- still, three and a half years later:

    She’s my best friend.

    And the three of us together? We’re thick as thieves.

    We get to travel, sometimes on a whim. I have the freedom to work- to create a business and a platform where my voice can be heard. And I can help others that feel just like me. And then when she’s home from school, it’s our time. And we get to talk and dance and laugh and have great adventures together- sometimes with friends, but sometimes just the two of us.

    And at the end of the day, I get to lay down with her. Its part of our ritual. And I get to enjoy it and be 100 percent present with her- without having to worry about changing another baby’s diaper, or another child’s bedtime routine, or who is getting more of my attention. She has it all. And I can soak in every sweet moment of her toddlerhood while it’s still wild and growing and beautiful, albeit trying at times.

    And that’s not to say that if it were some other way it wouldn’t be just as amazing. But that’s not our story- not our reality. Not right now. And that’s not a way to live our life- to think about what it could be. Because there’s so much beauty in what’s right here. Right now. And its ours. And this mindset is one I might not have if it weren’t for this struggle that we faced to get our girl- the one we still face- so for that; that part of it, I’m very grateful.