There are rituals for every beginning and ending in life. We have baby showers, christenings, graduations, weddings, funerals, and countless other events to mark the passage from one stage or life to another. I've noticed lately that I've created my own rituals for the beginning and end of fertility treatments.
When I began treatments, in particular IVF, I made an injection space for myself in our spare bedroom. I made space for my meds in the fridge. I set up a folder with my instructions and bookmarked the Vill.age Ph.ar.ma.cy website. I bought pregnancy tests. Everything in my life was prepared for the cycle. I set my cellphone alarm every day and evening so I would never forget to do an injection at the correct time. I put a bottle of water by my bed every night before blood work so I would remember to drink it first thing in the morning. It made it easier for the blood techs to draw blood from my little veins. I put my phone on vibrate every afternoon so I could know when the nurse was calling with instructions without disturbing the peace. And then, before we knew it, all this structure wasn't necessary anymore and it was time to move on with life. And it was hard because I knew how to do IVF. I'd done it four times. Moving on was new to me.
Ending treatments has led to rituals all its own. I cleared off the bureau that was my injection space. I packed up the sharps container that I hadn't discarded because it still had room to be filled and asked DH to bring it to the hospital for me. I got rid of my old meds: no more follistim or cetrocide in my fridge next to the tomatoes. I planned a vacation for the first time in two years without checking FF to see when I might be ovulating. I have started filling up my wine rack again. I stopped taking prenatals and stocked up on feminine hygiene supplies. I started drinking caffeinated coffee again a few times a week..
All these little rituals have been performed with a sense of purpose. They haven't just happened. I've made myself do them. Why? I guess for the same reason we have christenings, weddings, and funerals. They mark the moment when one part of life ends and another begins. Without that mark, I think we would be less able to move on, more likely to get stuck where we are. I feel like my end-of-treatment rituals are helping me to let go. Each one brings me a step further away from our last devastating IVF result and closer to finding peace with all of this.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
First, I'll tell you again that you were an absolutely beautiful bride last night. You and your new husband were so visibly happy and hopeful about the future and all it holds for you. On my card to you, I wrote that I wish you a lifetime of love and happiness. That's true, but there are other things I wish and hope for you that I didn't feel I could put on the card:
I wish you hadn't told everyone that you were going to TTC right away (starting last night). You've been so open about starting a family immediately. I hope that you don't regret your honesty as time wears on.
I wish that the excitement you felt last night, as you and DH had "baby-making sex" for the first time, is all you ever feel as you TTC. I hope you never feel like sex becomes a chore because you're having it not because you want to but because your chart or your doctor say you have to. May you never ever feel the need to let an OPK tell you when to make love with your husband.
I wish for you that you get pregnant quickly, that you get to see the two pink lines you long for in the next few months. I hope you never begin to wonder if maybe sex won't lead to a baby after all and start researching REs online "just in case."
I know you'll find a sweet and clever way to share the BFP with your husband. I wish for you to always remember that moment when you both knew your love for each other was going to be made tangible in the world. I hope you never have the memory of your husband holding your hand as the nurse calls with your beta results and crying in his arms when your last chance to have a baby with his eyes and your nose fails. I hope you never feel like your body has failed the one you love.
I wish for you to savor the excitement of both your families when you share your happy news with them. The prospect of the first grandchild on either side will bring extra joy, I imagine. I hope you'll never have to see the worry in your mother's eyes as you share with her that you have an appointment with the RE next month because it's just not happening.
I wish for you to revel in the enthusiasm of friends and coworkers when you share your pregnancy with them, the squeals of excitement and questions about due dates and morning sickness. Please know that I will be glad for you when the time comes, but my first reaction may not be the one you want to see because your gain will remind me of all I have lost. However, that moment of grief will pass and I will feel genuinely happy for you. I know you will be a wonderful mom. I hope you never have to excitedly announce the news that you and your husband will be adopting to be told, "Now you'll get pregnant for sure." May you never sense that congratulations from others are mixed with pity, or worry that your child will be viewed as a consolation prize.
I wish for you that you feel connected to other women as they share their pregnancy stories with you and you get to share your own. You will finally be part of the club. I hope you never feel on the outside looking in because you have no story to share.
I wish for you to see your baby's heartbeat beating strongly on an ultrasound while you husband sits next to you with tears in his eyes. I hope you are never looking at the picture of the embryos you and your husband have created with tears in your own eyes knowing that, because you just got your period, they will never grow any bigger than in the photo.
I wish for you to be showered with gifts and love at your baby shower. I know you've attended many and have long wanted one of your own. Have fun playing How Big Is My Belly? and unscrambling baby names. I hope you never feel selfish and superficial because you feel sad about not having a shower; you've always imagined having one but it's not really done when you adopt from foster care. It's a bit awkward when you don't have specific child for it. Besides, shouldn't you just be grateful to have a child at all?
I wish for you to hold your newborn in your arms and see your late dad's eyes in his tiny little face, to feel wonder that this little infant grew inside you for nine months and is unmistakably yours. I hope you never worry that someone could take your child away from you because, after all, he's not really yours until a judge says so.
And of course, as I wrote on my card to you, I wish you a lifetime of love and happiness.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
A social worker called yesterday to schedule our home visit so we can be invited to the state foster-adoption training. We're on for July 31. This is just an initial safety inspection visit. He'll check to make sure we have room for a baby and that our house is safe. By safe, I don't mean that we have to babyproof yet, but that we have smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, etc. Oh, yes, and they also check for running water and electricity. That means DH and I need to call the plumber so we can get rid of our outhouse and install an inside bathroom. How long do you think that will take?