Whew. This post has been weighing on my chest a bit the past week. I knew I needed to write something because the words have been bouncing around in my brain, driving me crazy. I knew that I wanted to share what we’ve been up to – but I didn’t know where to begin. And honestly… I still don’t.
So I figured I better just sit down at my computer, start typing, and see where this takes me.
When I last checked in with you guys way back in June (wow, did time fly) – we had found out our 2nd IUI didn’t work and we were going to take some time off to find “us” again because we needed a break from the stress and emotional exhaustion of all the treatments and fertility appointments. That, and we had lots of wedding photography contracts 9 months from that point – so we needed to step back a bit to ensure we could continue to pay the bills next wedding season (i.e. that we are able to WORK next wedding season)!
We also mentioned at that time that if we saw any gaps in our 2015 wedding season (i.e. if we didn’t have weddings booked for 9 months out) – then those months we would head back to the doctor. We just couldn’t stomach the thought of waiting another entire year to go through this process only to have it not work again. And so we did just that. We saw a 6 week gap in our schedule at the end of next July and early August, and my cycle ended up timing just right so that a due date would have fallen smack dab in the middle of that break – and so we were able to give another IUI a try in November.
We debated sharing our journey day by day, like we had in the past, but decided to keep this one close to our chest. It had been difficult sharing so openly, and feeling like we were disappointing so many people when it didn’t work each time. On top of that, I hated that in the past my clients were worried that this journey would somehow affect them even when we were nowhere near trying to get pregnant close to anyone’s wedding dates. I didn’t want it to affect our bookings for next year, and I didn’t want our summer clients to needlessly worry. And so we decided to move forward, but to keep it to ourselves this time.
Along with that being different – things in general felt a little different this time around. Maybe because we were SO busy with the tail end of our wedding season and fall family sessions. Maybe because my grandma had just unexpectedly passed away and we were traveling a lot and processing that grief. Maybe because we had done this twice before and gotten our hopes way up, only to have it not work. So this time James and I tempered our hopes. We were measured about it. We weren’t brainstorming baby names. We weren’t even really talking about the fact that we did an IUI during the two week wait between the procedure and the pregnancy test.
I was busy running around NYC with my brother, shooting sessions, and then we had a jam packed week of catch-up, more sessions, and a wedding upon my return to keep our minds (mostly) occupied. I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t think about it. I did. Especially as the date for the pregnancy test got closer. I may have even went out and dropped way too much money on pregnancy tests and taken them way too early for the results even to be accurate. But overall, I really really tried not to get my hopes up or focus too much energy on all of it.
Then the day came. As it always seems to happen with our IUIs – the timing was ridiculous. Of course our pregnancy test was the day before Thanksgiving. Of course. And so I went in early Wednesday morning for blood work, and then we packed up and headed up to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving with my brother, Josh, and his fiance, Martha, shortly after I got back from the doctor. Normally it takes a while to hear back from the nurse with my results, but in the middle of our car ride home my phone rang – with that familiar number popping up on the screen. I turned the radio off as quickly as possible and said, “Oh my gosh – it’s them already!” to James in the drivers seat as I snatched my phone off the hands free holder on our dashboard.
I answered, trying to sound way to chipper, and waited to read the tone of my nurse’s voice. As soon as she confirmed it was me on the phone, I heard a dip in her voice and already knew what she was going to say. “I’m soooo sorry to give you this news the day before Thanksgiving, Christy…. but the test came back negative. You’re not pregnant, sweetie. I’m so sorrrrrry.”
My mind went a little blank, but I know I kept reassuring her it was okay. I kept telling her it was fine. But in my gut I knew it wasn’t okay. It wasn’t fine. I wasn’t okay. I wasn’t fine.
She told me our next steps (stop the progesterone supplements and to contact them to start baseline testing at the start of my next cycle when we’d do another IUI with clomid again), and I didn’t even bother to tell her that I wouldn’t be calling at the start of my next cycle. The gap in our wedding season was only that month and so we’d be waiting another few months until early spring which would give us a winter/off-season due date, if this were actually to work for once. She wished me a Happy Thanksgiving as a car drove by us with a Christmas tree tied to its roof. I replied and told her to have a “Merry Christmas” before realizing it was the wrong holiday… and she sympathetically half-laughed at my mistake, knowing I was trying to keep it together. I just wanted to get off the phone. I wanted her to stop saying she was sorry. I wanted to stop pretending it was no big deal.
I hung up and James knew without me having to say anything. We barely spoke, while Josh and Martha sat in the back seat. Chloe had crawled into the front seat onto my lap at some point before the phone call (the world’s biggest lap dog), and I hugged her as I glanced over at James. In silence he reached his hand to mine and squeezed. I tried to keep it together. I hadn’t gotten my hopes up, but I was inevitably disappointed. More than I wanted it to be. I squeezed his hand back, so thankful that we have each other. So thankful that while none of this makes sense… we do. We have always made sense together, and that was most important. He told me it was okay to cry, and I pretended I didn’t want to. I pursed my lips and looked out the passenger window, as the tears silently started to fall.
I let it consume me for a moment. I let the disappointment and pain wash over me, mascara smearing down my face as I squeezed Chloe, still sitting on my lap. I let go and let the feeling wash over me and wash away. Within a few minutes I dug a tissue out of my pocket, wiped my face, and looked over at James. We made some snarky joke about it all, and laughed. We held hands and continued to drive homeward.
We made it home to our family as it all started to sink in more. We had pizza with my siblings, parents, niece and nephews. We played board games and we drank too much wine (okay, maybe just me). We laughed and we enjoyed time with our loved ones. I woke up early the next morning and headed out with my family and Chloe for our annual family Turkey Trot run at 9am in the freezing cold and snow.
We celebrated Thanksgiving with 60 of our relatives and I felt so very thankful. I didn’t feel like we were lacking. I didn’t feel like we were less than, or missing something. I actually felt whole. I felt complete. We have SO MUCH love around us. So many people who care about us. So many people who have written their own life stories, different from those around them. I noted the diversity in our home… how many members of my family were adopted, how many of my loved ones had miscarriages or lost babies, how many have been through losses I cannot even imagine. I saw all these things… I saw growth, I saw perseverance, and above all – I saw family, love, loyalty… I saw happiness and safety.
And I knew we’d be okay no matter what. I’ve always known that – but spending Thanksgiving with my family the day after getting this news made it even more apparent.
Over the weekend I had lots of time to think about all of this. I’ve given up trying to understand why any of this is happening and instead am doing my best to take it in stride. While none of this waiting and disappointment is easy… I had the realization while walking Chloe on Sunday – that with each day that goes by, even the hard days, we are one day closer to the baby that is meant for us, whether our biological child or not. With each appointment, with each discussion about family and life… with each plan for our future – we are one step closer to building the family we dream of.
We just have to keep moving forward.
We can’t give up hope.
We can’t let this journey make us weak, jaded, or bitter. We have to continue to grow stronger, more empathetic, more appreciative of our blessings, and more loving human beings. I believe wholeheartedly that this journey is making us the people we are meant to be – not only for ourselves, our marriage, all our current relationships with loved ones, and even with strangers we just meet – but for our future children. Because of all of this, we will be better people… better parents… than we ever would have been before.