I am no stranger to therapy. I am the queen of acting happy when my world is falling apart. For years my coping mechanism was stuffing my feelings in my back pocket and acting like nothing happened. This worked, until it didn’t. One day my pocket got a hole in it and my feelings fell to the floor. Every bit of my brokenness was laying in front of me, staring me in the eye and asking me to deal with it. The dealing was the hard part.
In mid April we found out that our forth and final embryo transfer did not take. We got a negative blood pregnancy test. One moment I was fine. The next I was eating sour gummy candy while crying in my bath tub. I felt defeated. I felt cheated. I was angry and frustrated that everyone else got their miracle but me. I shared my feelings with my dad and in a brief moment I realized why I am the way that I am. I am the product of his parenting.
He said to me “you do not have time for feelings. Stop it. Get yourself together and get your head in the game. Feelings trip you up. Stop it.” I heard those words a million times during my childhood. If I fell of my bike, my dad would tell me “stop crying. We don’t have time for crying.” If someone hurt my feelings at school he’d tell “you are better than them. They are trying to mess with you. Get yourself together and get back in the game.” My Dad viewed feelings as a weakness. He wanted me to be tough, driven and successful. In his eyes the successful did not feel. They instead stuffed it down, put on a happy face, and marched forward.
My Dad thought he was doing me a favor, but instead he unintentionally set me up for disaster. When the disaster came he again went into his pep talk of “we don’t have time for this, get your head in the game.” Time was something I needed. I needed time to just sit in my emotions. Time to get comfortable with the fact that I didn’t have to always be strong. Strength comes from within, it grows when we face our emotions. Therapy, therapy is what righted my course. In that small office I heard the words “AJ you can have bad days too.”
In those sessions I learned that I can take off the mask, I can share what’s on my mind and those that love me will accept the mess. I learned that it’s ok to say no. That it’s ok to put myself first. That it’s ok to feel everything that makes us uncomfortable. That it’s ok to set boundaries, to take a moment to just be and to breathe in the beauty that’s around me. That it’s ok to wave your white flag and take a nap. Naps are self care after all. Rest restores the mind, the body, and soul. It’s also ok to just be a hot mess who eats gummy bears while crying in the bathtub. No one can tell you how to process your feelings. They are yours and yours alone and only you know how to handle them.
Sometimes we loose our spark. We feel overwhelmed with defeat. It’s hard watching other people get the miracle you so desperately begged God for. God knows your journey and he knows what is to come. It’s ok to feel those feelings, they are valid and no one can tell you otherwise. Your spark is not lost. It just got smaller. Remember all it takes is one tiny spark to light the whole damn fire. Your spark will light a blaze and one day that blaze will lead someone out of the darkness. When you rise, be the blaze. Be the hand that says come as you are and be the voice they need to hear.
National Infertility Awareness Week hit differently this year. It came in quietly and then started to sting like a thousands wasps hitting my skin. TikTok was full of stories of hope and happy endings. No matter how fast I scrolled the next video would be a “I beat infertility story.” A story that I would normally cling to as evidence that my turn was coming. As evidence that God grants miracles to the weary. I’d hold their testimony like a blazing torch against the darkness. Except the darkness never broke and my miracle was not granted. God provided a way, yet he held back on the miracle.
On April 17th we were filled with so much hope and in my gut I knew our transfer took. We woke up early and drove to Mayo for our blood test. On the way home I ignored my phone. I wanted to stay in this blissful state of hope. I wanted to continue living in the land of my gut was right. One notification from the Mayo Clinic app ripped us from that land, our beta was less than 0.05, we were not pregnant. Our forth and final transfer had failed. We are the other side of infertility, the side that doesn’t get the miracle that they so desperately prayed for.
This side doesn’t get much attention as broken hearts do not create hope. If you are out of embryos and funds, you are cleared to the side to make way for the deep pockets of the hopeful. IVF is an industry just like any other, selling hope one cycle at a time. It’s a billion dollar business with little to no price regulations. Success stories sell hope and hope + success = profit. To anyone in the outside looking in I am just a mark in the failure column. Yet I am more than a mark in the failure column, I am the story of persistence, strength, and unwavering faith.
We focus so much on the positive outcomes that we forget about the grieving couples. We forgot about the couples stuck in the land of what ifs. We don’t want to discuss the couples who received subpar care or those that didn’t even get to the starting line due to BMI. IVF is not widely regulated and clinics can set their standard, because success is everything to them. Some clinics only take easy cases and turn away the complicated messes like myself. On paper I am a mess. I have complicated anatomy, endometriosis, adenomyosis, with a side of diminished ovarian reserve. I require more care than most clinics want to provide. If you don’t fit the clinics mold of quick and easy cycles you are pushed to the side to find a different clinic.
Mayo was my holy grail. A clinic that was willing to take the extra steps and loaded the deck so I’d have a better chance at success. Mayo was my 4th fertility clinic and the 1st to order an MRI. That MRI is what lead to the diagnosis of endo and adenomyosis. I had excision surgery in October to remove stage IV endo from my body and started a Lupron Depot protocol to prepare for a frozen embryo transfer. Transfer day came in February and we quickly learned that the lab somehow thawed the lower grade embryo instead of our higher grade embryo. I didn’t make a stink, I went with the flow and ok’d the transfer of the wrong embryo. I didn’t want to mess with fate and I felt that fate was a foot that day. We found out on March 4th the transfer failed and we were set for a WTF meeting on the 9th.
I met with a different doctor that day. One I hadn’t seen before. Mayo has a team approach and they supposedly discuss each case at length during lunch so everyone is familiar with all patients. This doctor wasn’t familiar with my case. I had asked for Lupron Depot, he told me it wasn’t necessary. He actually laughed at some of my questions and concerns. When I mentioned vaginal progesterone, he went on to tell me it wasn’t necessary and research doesn’t support it. When I mentioned the other doctor ok’d it he said “oh oh ok, I will write the order then.” I moved forward with the protocol because I assumed he had spoken to the other doctors that were handling my case.
On April 8th we transferred our last remaining embryo and on April 17th we found out it failed. I got a little tipsy that night and fired of an email with a list of concerns as I cried in my bathtub. I’m not proud of it, but it happens. Dr. K responded to my email that Monday and I ignored the response. I had a WTF appointment set for Tuesday and I was still debating whether or not I was going to log on to it. Early Tuesday morning I got an email from billing and that email lead me to open Dr. K’s response. Anger started to boil within me as I read the fist two paragraphs. Fuckery was a foot and I wasn’t having it, not today, not now, not ever.
The doctor I spoke to back in March told Jay and I Lupron Depot was not necessary, Dr. K said it absolutely was and recommended it for future transfers. The reason it wasn’t used this time around was because the doctor told his team that I refused the medication as I wanted to move quickly. Now I’m not an expert but “refused” and “not necessary” are two very different things. I didn’t refuse the medication, I asked about it and I asked for it. He said it wasn’t necessary so I assume he spoke to Dr. K, so I didn’t question it. I went forward on his word. All I know is if my WTF appointment had been handled by Dr. K we’d be on a different path right now. It just sucks that one doctor took it upon himself to make a decision that affected my care and compromised the outcome of my transfer.
It’s taking everything in me to get out of the land of what if’s. To get out of the land of should have, would have, and could have. I cannot go back to March 9, 2021 to advocate for myself and ask questions. As much as I want to I can’t. All I can do is move forward one very slow step at a time. I have to reimagine what this life will look like. One thing I do know is, I cannot imagine this life without children. I have so much love and patience to give to a child. My heart was made to mother. Somehow someway we will complete our family and that child will be so very loved. What’s getting me through the darkness is planning for the child I never imagined. Adventure is still out there and I know in my heart that one day we will have a pint sized sidekick by our side.
Right now I have to believe that God does not turn his back on the weary and that he heard my prayers. He heard every word, yet there was a miscommunication and my miracle got stuck somewhere in the space time continuum. Or just maybe my miracle went to someone who needed it more than I did.
A part of me wants to be mad at the first three fertility clinics I went to. Like someone along the way should have picked up on the fact that I might possibly have endometriosis plus a side of adenomyosis. Yet no one did and so they shoved me into their one size fits all protocol box. In which in their defense my numbers always looked great so their one size fits all approach worked.
It worked until it didn’t. In Iowa I cycled two times and both were canceled prior to our retrieval date. Dr. Young’s last words to me were “if anyone can get you pregnant, it’s Mayo.” He’s words soaked into me like water to a sponge. Yet I never picked up the phone to make an appointment with Mayo. Instead we explored our options such as foster to adopt and donor embryos.
By the fall of 2019 I had my heart set on donor embryos. I was ok with carrying someone else’s genetic material to term and calling that baby my own. But my heart she still whispered “let’s try one last time. One last time.” My gut gave me the courage to call Mayo for a consult. And on an icy February morning I drove down to Rochester and never looked back.
Mayo takes a team approach to infertility treatments and therefore you need enough of the team to believe in your case in order to proceed. The day of my consult the majority of the team was at a conference and I wouldn’t find out if I was accepted until I got back from my cruise. We did everything on the cruise to keep my mind of Mayo and it worked. Sherri and I had a blast aboard the Carnival Victory. And we soaked in the sites of Key West and Cozumel. It was a trip that I will always treasure.
When I got back the Doc from Mayo called me early Monday morning to tell me that I had been accepted. As fate would have it the university of Iowa called a couple hours later to tell me that we were next on the donor embryo list. That night jay and I weighed the pros and cons. We prayed and my gut told me that Mayo was the answer.
Enter Covid and all of our appointments got postponed. Which was fine by me, people needed the PPE and doctors more than I did. In May I had a pelvic MRI done and was at that time diagnosed with endometriosis and adenomyosis. Dr. Khan could also see plain as day my complicated anatomy on the screen. He explained that we could do surgery now or wait. Wait because if my ovaries had to be cut open I’d loose what little egg reserve I had left.
I chose to wait. In July we did one last Hail Mary retrieval cycle and ended up with two high grade embryos. Which I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I have two embryos in the freezer. The team at Mayo was just as excited as we were and they were so glad that we were able to freeze embryos.
Anyways back to the endo, I had my surgical consult at the end of August. During my consult Dr. Khan was once again very thorough and he explained everything to me. He laid out the options and the plan and like before he gave me choices. Hard choices like “if your Fallopian tubes are diseased is it ok for me to remove them? If removed you will be infertile.” Well according to medicine I am already infertile so I said yes to that option. I walked out of his office knowing that we had a solid plan and that one day soon my body would feel so much better.
Surgery day came sooner then I thought it would. The date it just sneaks up on you and before you know it you are in the shower with antibacterial soap that makes your skin itch. My surgery was delayed by 6 hours due to the case prior to me needing more time. I was fine up until hour 5, my hunger and thirst set in and I’d do anything for water. Thankfully a nurse took pity on me and gave me a little bit of water. Soon it was my turn to go down to pre-op. Where when I saw Dr.Khan I asked “did you forget about me!?” He said “how could I forget about you AJ. You are one of a kind.” He once again went over the plan and even the changes he made. He decided it was best to leave the adenomyosis alone because cutting it out of my uterus could cause more harm than good.
Five some odd hours later I was backup stairs in recovery. I do want to add that the post op recovery unit closed at 9PM. Two nurses whose names I did not catch stayed late so I could go home to my own bed. The nurses I had were incredible. They made sure I was able to walk on my own. One nurse helped me get dressed and made sure we had a barf buffet cup (it’s a bucket filled with wipes and Kleenex) to go home with. The nurses wheeled me down to the pickup zone and waited for Jay to bring the car over. On our way down I kept apologizing to them and they both looked at me and told me it was ok. “This is our job. We love our job. We’ll go home tonight and do the exact same thing again tomorrow.” They both gave me a hug and helped me into car and we waved goodbye as we drove off.
There is something about a Mayo Clinic nurse. They truly have a servants heart and away with people. I was always amazed by my Dad’s nursing staff and now to experience it on my own, he’s right when he says “they are the best of the best.” It’s true they are and I am so thankful for the care I received from my recovery nurses.
Rochester is 75 bumpy miles from Burnsville. And I felt every bump HWY 52 had and I’d never been happier to turn into our little street. We got home after midnight and that first night was pretty rough. French fries were a bad idea…..(I’ll leave that for your imagination). But butter toast saved my tummy along with some oxycodone and a little bit of sleep. You don’t realize how much you use your core and pelvic muscles until they are cut open.
Speaking of cutting, Dr. Khan diagnosed me with stage IV endometriosis and an ASRM score of 76, which in normal human terms means, really bad. He told Jay I had one of the worse cases he’s ever seen. Which is strange because I never showed symptoms, my endometriosis was the silent yet naughty kind. He removed endo from my pelvic cavity, abdominal cavity, colon, rectum, ligaments, ovaries, uterus, and a whole lot of other spots too. It’s crazy to me how much damage was done to my body every month and that this had gone undetected for years.
When I think back to the first three clinics, two out of the three saw dollar signs. Especially CCRM Minneapolis, Dr. B claimed to be an expert, yet she missed a lot of fucking red flags. And her arrogance didn’t allow her to seek outside advice on my case. Her kicking me out of the clinic lead me to Iowa. In Iowa Dr. Young did his best to help me, but at the end of the day I was to complicated for him. And I respect his walking away from my case and sending me off to Mayo.
If it weren’t for Dr. Young’s words I’d never would have gone to Mayo. Mayo’s tag line is “when you are ready for answers.” It’s perfect, I was ready for answers and I got answers and explanations to everything I’ve gone through in the past five years. One MRI sealed my fate and now knock on wood I will be living endo free for a long ass time. And with just a little luck and a whole lot of faith I will get to carry our embryos to term.
The lesson I learned in all of this is…. listen to your body. Do not give up on her and keep searching until you find a doctor that will really listen to you and not throw you into the one size fits all box. You are unique and you deserve the very best care. Everyone deserves that. So if you feel you might have endo, go talk to your doctor. And if your doctor doesn’t listen go find one who will. Because living with endometriosis shouldn’t be a death sentence, it should be a piece of your story.
Every IVF cycle I started was filled with hope until the seams started to rip and disappointment seeped it’s way in. Positives were met with negative outcomes. Yet somehow in the darkest moments I still clung to the tiniest shred of hope that my turn would come. That I too would get to carry a child. That I too would finally get to be called “mom.”
As the months rolled on it looked less and less likely that motherhood would be in my cards. I racked up a list of failures no one wants to have. One still birth. Two miscarriages. Three failed IUIs. Three IVF cycles, two of which were canceled due to poor response. The words “gestational carrier” were uttered last spring and I began to look at door eggs/embryos and adoption as my options for motherhood. Yet my gut thought otherwise and she made a Hail Mary appointment at Mayo.
My heart wasn’t ready for Mayo. She had her mind set on donor embryos in Iowa. Yet she entertained her gut and heard her out, because it doesn’t hurt to just see. To just see what Mayo had to say about their fertility. Turns out, I still have viable eggs and all of my hormone levels are on point for a 37 year old woman. Though the odds are terribly stacked against me, Mayo still approved me for treatment.
Unlike the other clinics, Mayo left no stone unturned for they understand this is my last shot at motherhood. For the first time on my journey a pelvic MRI was ordered and the results spoke volumes. I always felt like I might have endometriosis and/or an underlying issue with my uterus due to a 2010 perforation. The other docs dismissed my concerns and told me “research doesn’t support an impact on fertility, you will be fine.” But I wasn’t fine, my body was silently screaming for help and no one listened to her.
I met with Dr. K who specializes in endometriosis removal to go over my MRI results. He first showed me what my fucked up cervical canal looks like and then asked “are you ready to see yourself light up like a Christmas tree!?” He was way more excited about it than I was. He clicked to the next imagine and said “all that is glowing is endometriosis, you have one of the most severe cases I have ever seen.” The endometriosis is wide spread as it is in my abdominal & pelvic cavities. He went on to explain that if it was just the endometriosis he would be in support of me going through with IVF. My heart sank and I was thankful for the mask so he couldn’t see my expression.
The endometriosis wasn’t the worst of my problems. Adenomyosis was my new enemy. Adenomyosis is where the uterine lining growing deep into the muscle tissue of the uterus. It turns the tissue into a cork like consistency and makes it harder for an embryo to properly implant. He went on to explain that embryos that implant in a uterus with Adenomyosis tend to have smaller placentas and poor blood flow to the placenta. My heart sank again, our sweet Emmett’s demise was due to a smaller than normal placenta for his gestational age. The poor kid never had a chance, the embryo most likely landed on a spot of Adenomyosis.
I asked if the Adenomyosis was something new. My heart had to ask that, it needed to be reassured that this wasn’t the cause behind Emmett’s demise. Dr. K said “no this isn’t new, it most likely resulted from the 2010 uterine perforation. I died inside, The previous clinic had transferred our embryos into a toxic environment. Dr. K went on to explain that I was lucky because the Adenomyosis was localized and the bad spots can be cut out. This was good news to me, all be it risky, it was good.
Dr. K was extremely detailed when he explained both the Adenomyosis and endometriosis surgeries and what my odds of a successful pregnancy are. Dr. K explained that I should consider doing a retrieval cycle fist as I have diminished ovarian reserve and during the surgery he will need to cut open my left ovary to remove a few endiotomas which will cause my follicle count to plummet. After he gave me the bad news, he did something no other doctor has done before, he said “now it’s time for AJ to call the shots. People have made choices for you in the past. We are not going to do that here. You dear are in the drivers seat and we are here to help you get to your destination.”
I about cried. It’s true I’ve never had a say in my IVF treatments before. It’s always been “you will do this and that’s it.” In my gut I knew there was only one option so I uttered, I want to try with my own eggs. Can I do a retrieval first, freeze whatever embryos we get, and then do the removal surgeries? “YES! That is a wonderful plan AJ, I like how you think.”
I left that day with a renewed sense of hope and a tiny ping of anger in my heart. Mostly I’m angry at CCRM. Angry because they noted in my chart “suspected endometriosis” and did nothing to investigate it. All of this could have been taken care of in 2017, who knows maybe I’d have my mini me by now. I cannot hold on to anger for long, as anger harbors stress. I let myself feel the anger and then I let it go. Emmett would want his mama to do that, to let that shit go. I don’t have time for grudges. I have no hard feelings about Iowa, at the end of the day I was to complicate for Dr. Young and the last words he said to me were “if anyone can get you pregnant it’s Mayo.”
Mayo is our fourth clinic and I finally feel at ease with the care I am about to receive. Knowing that I have a hand in the treatment makes a big difference. This is our Hail Mary, we have a lot riding on this retrieval cycle and I pray to everything holy that we end up with viable day 5 embryos that lead to a baby in our arms.
“Walks around dusting of the blog……. wipes her hands on her jeans. Ahhh there we go!” Now we can work with this! I admit, this blog of mine has been collecting dust as I busily live life out loud. I am in the process of learning to live in the here and now, without the sudden urges to document everything that’s going on in m my life.
Yet, my soul knows how much my fingers love to touch the keys and with each stroke my words translate into a hope that I can’t even begin to understand. This blog of mine is a source of comfort, triumph, laughter, and lastly a source of hope for those on their way to parenthood. This is a safe place where I can share and where my sharing resonates with you and in turn you said “damn, me too.” This place will always exist for us and I promise to be better about sharing with all of you.
The journey is forever changing. When I think I am on the right path it switches on me and I end up on foreign ground. The path to parenthood isn’t always a straight line. For some of us it’s a switchback up a mountain with more lows than highs. This summer we were certain foster to adopt would be our path to parenthood. But my heart she wasn’t ready to let go of what her soul yearned for. Deep down my soul knows I am meant to carry a child into this world. To prove that against all odds science and God will triumph.
Somewhere in Iowa a couple went through IVF and they decided that their family is complete. That couple decided that they wanted to pay their blessing forward. Instead of letting their embryos sit in a cryobank for eternity they chose to donate life. The embryos are donated to the University of Iowa’s donor embryo program and we are on list one. List one gets served first (couples with no living children and/or pregnancy) and we are waiting for the day we get the call telling us it’s our turn. With a little luck their leftover embryo will become our take home baby.
If our IVF story would have turned out differently, we had planned on giving our leftover embryos to a donor embryo bank. We wanted to pay it forward and let someone else have a chance at holding a baby in their arms. Being on the receiving end of Embryo Donation is a path I never thought I’d go down. Yet here we are, putting one foot in front of the other moving closer to parenthood. Our turn, is just a phone call away and my heart cannot wait to finally grasp that rainbow.
Last Sunday I left for Iowa full of hope. Hope that our mini IVF cycle was going to be our ticket to parenthood. My first scan on Monday revealed six mighty follicles and I was excited. A phone call that afternoon took the wind out of my sails. My estrogen only went from 32 to 41 which means the follicles were most likely empty. Dr. Y gave me the choice to throw in the towel or continue on.
I choose to continue my cycle with a recheck on Wednesday. Cullen and I made the best of our stay in Iowa and enjoyed the warm weather. Wednesday came and I walked in to the scan so full of hope. Hope that somehow some way this was going to work out. My six mighty follicles were still growing and I had one lead at 20mm. I left the office with a mix of hope and fear.
Winter sent her last bast to the Midwest and my 3.5 hour drive turned into 6. The clinic called with my results, my estrogen only went up to 101 and Dr. Y canceled my cycle. I was heart broken. I wanted to give this cycle everything I had and I begged for them to let me go to retrieval. The answer was no. No because my estrogen should be in the thousands and not at 101. The likelihood of us actually getting any eggs was slim to none. In less than two years my egg quality went from great to poor. Poor eggs do not grow to healthy embryos that lead to take home babies.
In my heart I knew it was time to move on to frozen donor eggs. I called the clinic asking about cycle pricing and what it would all entail. Dr. Y recommended that we use a surrogate and denied my request to transfer the embryos to me. He said that with my age and medical history a surrogate was the best way to get our baby. I was heart broken. This man was willing to transfer my own embryos back to me, but when it came to donor egg embryos he said surrogate only. Dr. Banfield laid everything on the table (strain on my body, age, history of repeat loss, and clotting history) and second Dr. Y’s recommendation. In that moment I felt defeated.
All of the hope I had left my body and all I wanted to do was shrivel up and wish the world away. My heart was broken. My body failed me and because of that my chance at motherhood of a living child slipped through my fingers. Sure, I could search for another clinic and go forward with donor eggs. But deep down in my gut I knew I was done. I have exhausted all avenues with my own body and it’s time to move on.
Move on to an instant kid. I have always felt called to adoption. To raise a child that wasn’t of my own flesh and blood. A child that needs a home filled with love and adventure. When I was little I was obsessed with cabbage patch dolls. I loved that they came with names and adoption certificates. Edith May and Thelma Louise are safely tucked on a shelf in my childhood closet. My parents kept them for me. They had hope that one day I would hand them down to my daughter. That hope is still there and in my heart I know that our child is out there just waiting for us to bring him or her home. Jay and I are moving forward with foster to adopt.
We started February’s cycle filled with hope. A hope that was quickly dashed when I heard the words “Dr. Y thinks it’s best to cancel this cycle and start over.” My body which is now two years older than before was not responding to the meds. After four days of stims I only had two lead follicles and Dr. Y didn’t like those odds. The nurse told me that Dr. Y wanted to try a different approach on my next cycle. We trusted his decision and appreciated the fact that he called it instead of having us go through a retrieval that could have resulted in zero eggs.
Hearing the word “canceled” made for a long drive back to Minneapolis. In my heart I felt defeated and in that moment I lost hope. Tears fell as the miles ticked by. I was angry at my body and I felt like I failed Jay. This was suppose to be our turn; our Hail Mary and it fucking failed. Somewhere between Iowa and the MN boarder the tears stopped and hope bubbled through. I was down; but I was not out. We still had options and I let my heart turn to donor eggs.
When I got home I of course cried some more and then I ate some Tasty Tacos with Jay. We discussed the what if’s and I muttered the words “donor eggs” to him. I wanted to ask the doctor if it was the right fit for us and find out the cost. Jay and I were in agreement that it didn’t hurt to ask. We both realized that we want a life with a child who will come visit us when we are old. So if donor eggs got us that life then that is what we would do.
When I asked Dr. Y about donor eggs he was upfront and said “we are not there yet.” He went on to explain that my age caught up to me and that older women respond better to less meds. Which seemed strange to me but I trust his over thirty years of expertise and so less meds it is. I will be on a mix of Femora and Menopur with a little Cetrotide to prevent me from ovulating on my own. And of course my old pal Lovenox will be involved in this party. Even though I am on less meds the risk for blood clots is still there and it’s a risk I’m not willing to take on. Hopefully this combo will lead us to many follicles that will contain mature eggs.
It’s a crap shoot that’s for sure; but we are not ready to give up. If this protocol doesn’t work we will then move on to donor eggs. Which for some it isn’t the right option; however for us it maybe our only option for parenthood. I have given it a lot of thought and I am at a place where I can accept that our baby will not genetically be mine. This is a sacrifice I am willing to make for our take home baby. For now in this place it doesn’t matter what egg the baby comes form so long as it’s born alive and healthy. We just want a good egg that will turn into an embryo that leads to our take home baby.
In my heart I knew this day was coming. I watched the days tick by as the months moved forward on the calendar. March 5, 2018 you were born into this world sleeping and my heart was broken once more. Emmett James you left this world with more love than your soul could ever handle. You were wanted. You were needed; yet God our God needed you more.
My heart still wonders who you would have been. Would you look like your mama with a head full of curls or would you have your dad’s eyes. Would you giggle at your muppet like dog or would you frown when Dexter’s tail crossed your face. Would you have your Grandmas wrapped around your finger or would you be toddling after your Papa with eyes filled with wonder. I dream of the outfits you never got to wear and the steps you never got to take.
I dream of the life you never got to live. Emmett my dear you were cheated and so were we. We were cheated out of a lifetime together and because of that our hearts will be forever broken. Your life though short taught us to have faith and to believe in miracles. You my son were the child that we had prayed for and you were worth the struggle. Our baby you will always be.
Emmett’s turtles were thrown in Lake Superior
I walk this earth with a broken heart; because three piece of it rest in heaven. Apart of me was jealous when you left. Jealous because you got to meet your brothers before I did. I have no doubt that Lucia and Baby E were waiting for you and now you are the big three causing trouble in heaven. I can only imagine what you three are up to. This life I live is for you and I will carry you with me for all of my days. My babies you will always be.
If I had to do this all over again; we would always choose you Emmett James. You are ours and we are forever yours. Our baby you will always be.
I am starting to believe that just maybe unicorns, trolls, and mermaids do exist. Lord knows I am pretty much a medical unicorn. A girl with complicated anatomy that prevents her from getting pregnant the natural way. I must have been late when God was handing out the good cervixes. Because I got the broken one that came from the bottom of the barrel. Even though she’s broken, she’s mine and I wouldn’t trade her in. She’s caused me a lot to trouble and now she’s held together with scar tissue and hope.
I’ve faxed and scanned my records to more clinics than I can count. For one reason or another all of them told me no. I drove to Green Bay and was told no. The doctor waited until that morning to look at my records. I was to complicated for him. My BMI was .3 to high for him. So he sent me packing and I was defeated. It stung, the hope that I had instantly left my body and in my heart I was done.
Four hours on the road gives you time to contemplate and to organize a plan. In that moment I wanted to walk away from all of this. Yet something in my gut told me “take one more step, one more leap, we are not done yet. We can go a little bit further.” That little embryo of ours is counting on me, counting on me to bring it into existence. Embryo #3 deserves a chance to become a baby.
You can call me a hope addict. I am addicted to hope with a dash of fear. Do I regret getting fired from CCRM Minneapolis? Nope not one bit. In m my heart I always knew CCRM was not the right place for me. I stayed because I felt held to the wall without options. Did I receive good care form CCRM? Nope, my complicated anatomy and I were treated like an inconvenience. I was a lepar in their books, I didn’t fit the mold, and no matter how much they tried my fat ass wouldn’t fit in their box. CCRM’s lab is all you really need and any qualified doctor can do a frozen embryo transfer.
I think to myself “one day Embryo #3 will read this very blog and will know how hard we fought for him or her.” When you are addictive to hope you do not know how to stop fighting. When life throws you a block you curve to the left and find a solution. Google and I have become BFFs as we search for a clinic capable of taking me and embryo #3. Somewhere out there is a doctor just waiting to put a feather in his or her cap and that doctor will say “yup I will take you on.” I will continue to scan and fax until I find them. Motherhood is something I have always dream of and I am to addicted to give up.
Something told me to find my family before I attempted to transfer Embryo #3. I cannot explain it. Deep down my soul was telling me “find Grace, find your family, and go HOME.
In early September my Dad and I went home. Home to Crow Wing and the White Earth Reservation. There I touched the house my ancestors built and walked amongst their graves. I did what my Grandfather never did, I went home for him. My heart she wasn’t settled, she needed to find Grace. She needed to stand before the woman who never gave up on her children.
Find a grave. com is an amazing tool and it helped me immensely. Fate had a hand in this too. Someone had documented Riverside Cemetery in Seeley WI, Grace Geneviève Beaulieu Cox’s stone was amongst the photos. My Great Grandmother’s stone was staring back at me plain as day on my iPhone screen. When I looked it up I realized that I had driven right by her for years.
Hayward is Wisconsin’s vacation land and it’s a place I try to visit every year. The Main Street is lined with cute little shops and there are lots of restaurants serving down home north woods cooking. If you venture outside of Hayward you will see “canoe landing” signs dotted along the highways. The area is amazing for canoeing. Speaking of canoeing; I AJ canoed right by my Great Grandmother’s grave and didn’t know it. I have driven by Grace’s grave every fall on my way to Bayfield. She was there in Seeley, just waiting to be found. Waiting for us to stand before her and say her name.
She was lost, but now she’s found. My dad and I instantly spotted her grave when we pulled through the cemetery gates. My dad never got to meet her when she was alive. I watched as he laid the tobacco down and said “Grandma you’ve been found.” After Irene died I was allowed to go through their home and pick out items I wanted. Nestled in a corner covered in dust was a statue of an Indian woman with a baby on her back, I was drawn to this and put it in my box. It’s been sitting in my garage ever since and I had no plans to bring it inside. It came to me that the statue was meant for Grace. I held the statue steady as my dad squirted the glue and I stuck it to the concrete. My dad instructed me to push down and give it a little twist so it will stick. We gave Grace her heritage back.
After Grace’s children were taken she did what she had to do to survive. She got married and made a new life for herself all while still holding out hope that her children were alive. Grace reunited with my Grandfather, her son was lost, but now he’s found. I cannot imagine what that moment looked like, when he was taken he was around 5 years old and when he was found Clifford was a middle aged man. Grace was whole, her children were found. Seeing my Dad stand before Grace, his grandma was something I will always treasure. My Dad is now whole too. He got to touch the stones of his ancestors and lay tobacco down to acknowledge that because of their battles he exists.
And now I feel whole too. Whole because I stood before the grave of the strongest woman I never got to meet. The courage and determination she had was beyond measure. I relate to Grace; our lives are similar. Like her, I know what it’s like to have your life ripped to shreds. I know the strength it takes to build a new normal. To never give up fighting for your children. Dead or alive your children will always be yours and you need to fight for them.
Grace once was lost, but now she’s found and we are never letting go. My Dad and I decided that we are going to visit her grave often and I have faith that one day Embryo #3 will stand before her.