Author Archives: lydiakluge

A poem for National Infertility Awareness Week

April 23-29, 2017 is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). The CDC tells us that 15% of couples, more than 1 in 8, struggle to conceive. This seems like a surprisingly​ high number. But as I count those of my closest friends who have struggled with infertility, and run out of fingers on both hands, I know this is sadly a problem that all too many have faced.

I write this post today in honor of NIAW and to add my voice to the voices of many women and men experiencing the difficulties of infertility, who have shared their stories this week.

This is not the first time I have posted about my fertility struggles. You can read my previous posts by clicking the ‘INFERTILITY’ tab above or here: Our Journey to Parenthood, We Are Ready For You, Thankful for those little thingsOur baby journey continues, and Strength and Faith.

As I sit down to write a new post, I ponder what facet of infertility I should write about this time. In my previous posts I have shared our fertility story to date. I have wanted to be open and honest about our journey, and it is cathartic for me to write. I hope my posts might help to dispel some of the taboo surrounding infertility, to help people to understand, to support others who might be experiencing infertility themselves or know someone who is, and to be real about one of numerous struggles we can face as humans. In addition to sharing the details of our experience, and the emotions we have felt, the over-riding theme that kept coming to me was of the lessons I’ve learned that I can share with others.  Lessons on how we can deal with this messy, beautiful thing called ‘life’ – patience, perseverance, gratitude, connectedness, love, and faith, to name a few.

What should I share today? I sit. I close my eyes. I think. I feel. Words start coming into my head. Then the sound of my heart beat, loud and strong. A poem is stirring inside of me. I wait for it to come. The words pour onto the page. This is my poem:


My womb is empty, But my heart is strong.

My womb is empty,
A hollow void,
An empty chamber,
My deepest thoughts and fears,
Echoing against it’s “barren” walls.
Wanting, hoping, waiting.

But my heart is strong.
Thump, thump … thump, thump …
My blood moves through my body,
Like I move through life –
Strong.
Determined.

I hear the sound of one heartbeat,
But there is room for two.
I wait,
For the faster beat of another’s,
To join mine,
Creating a symphony.

These compositions* are beautiful,  (* life with children)
Messy, but beautiful,
Louder and faster,
They can make your head spin,
Other times peaceful and soft,
Filling your heart with immense joy.

Sometimes however,
The composer writes a different song.
Choosing His timing carefully,
Waiting longer* to reveal the crescendo, (*infertility)
Some of His pieces wildly different, unexpected*  (*surrogacy, adoption, life without children)
Each vital and brilliant in their own way.

Thump, thump … thump, thump …
My womb is empty,
But my heart is strong.
I feel it in my chest,
Vibrant, healthy
Letting me know that I am ALIVE!

Lydia Kluge 4/29/17

My womb is empty but my heart is strong

I am from…

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Where are you from?

Close your eyes and think back to your childhood home or somewhere you felt safe as a child – picture yourself there – think about what you are doing, seeing, and hearing. What toys are you playing with?  What will you be eating for dinner?  What sounds do you hear?

I recently did this visualization and then completed a fill-in-the-blanks poem (Mad Libs style) entitled “I am From”.  The task was during a meeting I am on the Board of Directors for – Girls on the Run, Utah.  GOTR is a 12-week after-school youth empowerment program for 3-8th grade girls that inspires them to be joyful, healthy, and confident, and weaves in practice for a 5K run. The poem will be included in our coaches training.  We want the coaches to think back to their childhood and try to put themselves in the shoes of the girls we teach.  We want to help them remember what it is like to be 8 – 13 years old, with all the hopes and dreams, strength and vulnerability, concerns and joy that comes with it.

After closing our eyes and taking ourselves back to our past, we were given 5 minutes of quiet to complete our poems. Then we read them aloud to the group. We smiled as we recognized similarities of people having played with the same toys as us, enjoyed the same food, or partook in similar family traditions. We absorbed the information and learned a little more about each other, where we came from, and what makes us unique.  As I read my poem I felt a lump in my throat, and it seemed many of the others experienced the same reading theirs. The poem transported us back in time to the children we once were.  

I believe the idea to include the poem in the coaches training stemmed from a poem written by George Ella Lyon called ‘Where I am From”, which can be read here.  Many people have taken this poem to write their own versions you can read one here and here. (The final link includes a template to write your own).

I was touched by writing my poem, so I expanded mine to include more memories and experiences.  It was fun to recall these childhood memories with my parents, siblings, and friends.  The poem could make a great gift for Mother’s or Father’s Day.  I would love to read similar poems written by people I know.  Why don’t you have a go at writing your own? Where are YOU from?

“I Am From” by Lydia Kluge 

I am from a red brick house with black Tudor beams,
from a garden filled with bright flowers, fruit bushes, and a roaming tortoise,
I am from a magnolia tree with soft white and pink petals,
whose limbs and branches felt so familiar as we climbed and swung from them,
and from a silver birch in which my Dad built us a tree-house, with small rectangular steps and rope handrails.

I am from furry teddy bears and comforting muslin cloths called ‘fluffies’,
from playing on our slide, climbing-frame, and swing-set,
(on summer’s evenings in pajamas after bath-time – just a little longer before we go to bed),
I am from blue plastic billy bumpers, from trikes, bikes, and roller-skates – round and round on the concrete path,
from shiny conkers and piles of crisp fallen leaves,
and from my Dad mowing the lawn with his push mower.

I am from laughter, conversations, bike bells, and cat meows,
from revving engines and shiny cars,
I am from Bob Marley’s reggae, Motown, and popular hits – cheerful music filling the kitchen,
from my Mum singing as she returned from work and cooked us meals,
and from dancing with my sister in front of the TV to the weekly edition of ‘Top of the Pops’.

I am from summer camps and guide camps, new activities and sleeping in tents,
from bunk beds and bed time stories – our Mum sitting in a chair by our side,
I am from homework and solving problems, from paper-rounds and black ink covered fingers,
from family bike rides and walks at Nonsuch park, collecting pine-cones for my Granny’s fire,
and from finishing each activity with a warm cup of tea.

I am from Christmas meals with lots of dishes and even more people,
from warm buttered crumpets, pasta (my brother’s favourite), and roasts every Sunday,
I am from my Grandmother’s crispy potatoes and my Grandfather catching our hand in his,
from home-grown fruits and vegetables, lovingly peeled and chopped, and made into crumbles or homemade ice-cream,
and from playing board games and cards after dinner with family and friends (my competitive nature coming out).

I am from school uniforms – grey striped ties and navy checked kilts,
from shiny red gym shorts winning relay races,
I am from crossing a road with a friendly lollipop lady and running for green buses,
from driving to see relatives – summers with our Aunt and Uncle: country walks, dogs, piano,
and fun at the beach with our Cousin – sandcastles, donkey-rides, Granddad’s tricks and Nana’s fig tree.

I am from Sherwoods and Knights,
from travel overseas and seeking adventure (torpedoed boats, new jobs, new lives),
I am from hardworking and tenacious, stoic and strong,
from make do and mend, and humble and selfless,
and from morning cheeriness  “Wake-up girls, it’s a beautiful new day!”

I am from too sensitive and curbing my teenage quick tongue & temper,
from learning, growing, thinking, and reflection,
I am from a family who is kind, loving, welcoming, and tall,
from “The more the merrier” – shared meals and bringing people together,
and from these moments when family and friends become one.

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Strength and Faith

strength and faith

How do we stay strong during disappointments and sadness? How do we stay faithful when it seems our prayers are not being answered?

I drag myself along the trail. My feet plod slowly on the dusty path…thud, thud, thud. They feel like they are made of lead. My heart is heavy too, pulling me downwards by an invisible thread, almost anchoring me to the spot. My whole body carries the weight of my sadness. I force my arms to swing and continue slowly forward, trying to physically propel myself out of my grief, trying not to get stuck, paralyzed in my disappointment and fear.

At the same time as I make my slow progress by foot along a dirt path, my husband does the same thing, but by bike. Our chosen methods to deal with our sadness – getting out in nature to think and breathe. The sun begins to drop in the sky, bathing everything in her soft gold rays. When we get home Jeff tells me he feels the burden of our sadness too. He says he feels deflated. “The wind taken out of our sails”, I murmur.

Last time we had learned about our IVF failure I had wanted to run or ride as fast as I could. I had wanted to exercise, breathe hard, feel my heart racing, push myself to my limit, (especially after two weeks of mostly sedentary resting/waiting). I had wanted to remind myself how strong I am physically and mentally. That afternoon back in June when we’d heard the news, I went on a ride with Jeff. I rode hard and at the end of our ride I held my bike high above my head. I demonstrated to myself, Jeff, and God, how strong I was. However, today feels different. Today I feel so heavy inside. Today it will take something else to help me move on.

I wish my inspiration to write today was out of jubilation and not sadness. I cannot wait for the moment to share one of my greatest joys with the world – that we’re expecting our child. But the result of our earlier phone​ ​call determined my current disposition. Jeff and I had sat at the teak table on our back deck, the fresh air on our cheeks and inhaling deep breaths, we looked at my phone and waited to hear the results of our IVF 4. To hear whether our tiny beautiful embryo, which had grown healthily for 6 days, had implanted. To hear whether we were pregnant!

During our wait I mention to him that this could either be the best phone call of our lives or the worst phone call. Then I reflected on that and corrected myself. No matter the news this phone call would reveal, it would not tell us of the hardest thing I could imagine: of a terminal illness or the death of a loved one. And while it could represent death in some ways – the death of our dream of parenthood at this moment in time, the death of our previously thriving embryo – at least it was not the worst news we could face. I felt thankful for that. It reminded me to be grateful for what we do have.

(Some studies have shown that ​​infertility carries a similar level of anxiety and depression ​for people, ​as ​those​ diagnosed with cancer and heart disease. ​Some women who have suffered from both cancer and infertility, have reported ​certain aspects of infertility being harder to bear – the shame, failure, and especially regarding their interactions with others on the topic. Dealing with infertility isn’t understood by so many people. This is ​partly why I chose to be open about our fertility struggles, hoping that shedding a light on fertility issues might ​reduce the stigma and to help people understand).​

The phone call eventually came. The tone of that first syllable of the nurse’s words again letting us know the bad news. Why? Why are we still not going to be parents? The tears came. My body crumpled into my husband’s arms. My sobs quiet at first and then louder, my breath gasping, chest heaving. We try to take it all in. The disappointed crashed down upon us, followed closely by confusion and frustration.

The ‘whys’ become directed at God. When I first looked for His plan in the delay of our conceiving, I tried to look for the silver lining and good that was a result. I thought that perhaps one of the reasons for the delay was to strengthen my husband’s​ and my relationship. While fertility struggles can cause major issues in the relationships of some, Jeff and I ​are fortunate to feel ​that it ​is bringing us closer and closer together. We admire each other’s strength, courage and sacrifices, and ​are ever more impressed by the person we​ chose to be our life partner. However, after time I felt like we had achieved ​such a strong bond and ​yet ​conceiving still wasn’t happening for us.​

Did I need to learn something more? I’ve​ already​ learned so much from our journey (mentioned in previous posts​ : Our Journey to Parenthood, We Are Ready For You, Thankful for those little things, and Our baby journey continues​), including: patience, strength, ​gratefulness, faith, and the love of family and friends. Over the past months and years we have drawn on that love. We feel incredibly​ ​thankful for the people in our lives, and their love and support​.​

Why are we still waiting?​ I have sat by as I watched so many friends get pregnant, and smiled. I have learned of multiple people who conceived on their first try, and smiled. I smile through my own pain at not experiencing the same, but I smile because I always feel happy and excited for others. I have spoken with people who have struggled with and expressed the sadness of infertility for just a few months, I smile and empathize with them. I listen to people who are suffering from secondary infertility after having their first or second child, I smile and comfort them. Sometimes, in my human failings, I get frustrated thinking that a few months struggling with infertility, before or between children, is nothing compared to nearly 5 years. Or perhaps I don’t ​fully ​acknowledge​ to myself​ the same grief of secondary infertility, when I’d love for even one child. But then I remind myself, who am I to say their grief is any less than mine? I’m not a martyr for going through this. So many people go through so many different struggles and hardships in life.  It is often these shared difficulties that connect us.  And ​hopefully I can learn some things and help others along the way.​

Maybe I have more to learn on this journey? ​Maybe God has a different plan for me than I’m imagining? Maybe more than the lessons I have learned, and needing me to become closer to my husband, family, and friends, he needs me to become closer to Him?​ I search for what it is I am supposed to do.  Do I need to pray harder? More often? Go to church more?

Some people have expressed that God did not answer their prayers until they finally turned everything over to Him and put all their strength and trust in Him.  ​​I continue to grow in my faith​​, but I find it hard sometimes.  Struggles ​and hardships ​can test our faith, and it has certainly tested mine. But I remind myself that our hard times are when we can especially turn to and rely on God. ​

People have quoted Bible verses to us “Ask and ye shall receive”. They tell us they are thankful to God for blessing them with their child and answering their prayers. Why did he bless them and not us? Plenty of people ask God for things, for honorable things – for themselves or loved ones to be healed, to become parents, to be able to feed themselves and their families. ​We don’t always get the answer we are looking for. We have to trust God’s plan and timing for us. Being able to do that is a process.​

I read a couple of things today that stuck out to me ‘Sometimes BAD things happen to GOOD people’.  This is an age-old adage. People often ponder this, especially when they are doubting God’s existence: ‘Why would He let something bad happen to someone good?’  I also read ‘Sadness contributes to the richness and fullness of life’. I reflect on these two statements and realize that if bad things only happen to bad people, we would all live in fear of being bad or doing anything bad. Being fearful is not a good way to live. Also, when bad/hard/sad things happen to people it allows humans to ​connect, to show their tenderness towards one another, and to recognize their own humility (we are not above suffering, there is no reason someone else should suffer over us). We can learn so much from these things. To some extent, I believe we need to feel some hardship/lows in order to fully appreciate joy/highs. The yin and yang – necessary opposites, contrary but interconnected.

W​hen life is challenging, I try to look for the good and beauty in things. When I went on my walk today, after our devastating phone call (now a total of 7 failed embryos), I saw huge thick gray clouds overhead​, casting everything below in coolness and shadow. I ​also saw ​the sun peeking out from behind the clouds.  It made it’s way through the clouds and warmed my skin.​ I realize the sun, the light, the things that make me feel good and happy, are what I want to focus on.

As ​I carry on on this journey, I will continue to look for the silver lining​s​. I will use my inner strength to propel me forward. I will try to let go, and rely on God and my ​faith. I will be thankful for my husband, my family and friends, and let them help me share the weight of my burdens, as I help with theirs. And I will share the lessons I learn along the way. Jeff and I will go on​.​ We will find a way – someday, someway, somehow – to be parent​s.​ As we process our next steps, I want to thank you all for your continued love and support.

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Read my most recent post for National Infertility Awareness Week, which includes a poem I wrote, here: My womb is empty, but my heart is strong.

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one step at a time

Taking one step at a time.

Sitting on my favorite bench contemplating my emotions and our next steps.

Heavy clouds overhead, but the sun is trying to peek through.

The sun breaks through the clouds. It warms my skin and bathes everything in it’s golden rays.

Our baby journey continues…

I step out of bed and pad across the soft carpet onto the cool tile floor.  I glance down at the calendar on my counter and next to today’s date, I see in bright pink ink the two hearts I have drawn and the words ‘ ♥ ♥ PREG TEST’.  Today is a big day for us!  I take a deep breath and try to let go of any fears and anxiety.  Jeff walks over to our wooden bedroom blinds and pulls on the string to let the rays of the morning sunlight stream in.  He exclaims, “The deer are back!”  I rush to the window and look out towards our lawn, and there is the mother and her two babies that we saw yesterday morning.  The fawns – with their long spindly legs and white speckled backs – frolic and play, while their mother stands and keeps a watchful and protecting eye over them.  This sight makes me feel instantly relaxed and peaceful, just as it did yesterday.  Perhaps it is a sign from God that I am a soon to be a mother too?

I look in my heart for the knowledge that today will be a day of celebration for us, a day of joy, a day of wonder and excitement.  I imagine it will be right up there with our wedding day as one of the best days of our lives (along with the day our babies would be born)!  We are so hopeful for our upcoming news.  Would today be the day we would find out we are going to be parents?

I drive down to Salt Lake City to our doctor’s office.  I feel a mixture of anxiousness and excitement on the journey.  Aloud I run through some positive statements: “My body is a welcome and harmonious place for new life to grow.  My thoughts are peaceful and calm.  I am worthy and deserving to be a mother.”  I make the six healing sounds from traditional Chinese medicine – hissing like a snake and shhhing like a librarian as I think of colors and different internal organs (hey, I am willing to give anything a go)!  I think of Mark 5:36 ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe’.  I feel a deep sense of peacefulness and the knowledge that things will be OK either way.

I arrive at the clinic and the nurse who draws the blood is so excited to see me.  “I have been waiting to thank you!” she exclaims.  “Your advice really helped me.”  She reminded me that last time I had seen her to draw blood (I have had a lot of blood drawn over the last few years!); she had told me of her desire to find a large house to rent in the mountains this summer.  She thanked me for really listening to her and giving thought to my answers.  One of the websites I suggested had resulted in her finding a house to sleep 25 for her wedding venue!  I was so excited for her news and thankful to have helped that I forgot to be nervous about why I had gone in.

I step outside of the clinic into the fresh air and I think back over the last six weeks.  I think of all the injections, pills, appointments, and getting my body ready for this moment.  This cycle is our third attempt at IVF and first time doing a frozen embryo transfer (FET).  We previously tried two IVF fresh cycles in January and April of 2015, we also did two egg retrieval only cycles in December 2015 and February 2016, four IUIs in 2014, Clomid in the year prior, and earlier still good old trying naturally!  We are now 4.5 years into our fertility journey.  I estimate we have gone through over 50 cycles/attempts to conceive during this time.  Sadly, none of these previous attempts has resulted in a pregnancy.  50 times to get our hopes up.  50 times to anxiously wait the two weeks between ovulation and when we would find out if we were pregnant.  50 times to have our hearts break a little at the sad news that we had not conceived again.  And still no clear reason why it is not working for us.

Each of those months was difficult, but none was as difficult as the failed IVFs.  The emotional, physical, spiritual, (and financial) investment in those cycles; all of the appointments, procedures, medications, injections; knowing that we had put developing embryos – human life – inside me; all of the additional hope and optimism pinned on this being our solution, made it all the harder to bear.  We felt good about this third IVF attempt though.  Third time lucky.  Statistics of success for our cumulative efforts were in our favor.  Several people I knew, both in person or through fertility blogs, had conceived on the third time of IVF.  This would be our time to become parents.

Everything had gone well with our embryo transfers 12 days earlier.  Both embryos had survived the thawing process (there is about a 70% chance for an embryo to survive thawing).  Our doctor told us we now had a 40 – 45% chance to conceive by transferring two embryos (30 % chance with one).  Post transfer I went home and spent the next three days resting.  I read, slept, looked at photos of pregnant bellies and babies, sat in our garden looking at the flowers and butterflies, I colored drawings, and sketched a picture (of Jeff and myself on a bench holding our children).  I did acupuncture and craniosacral therapy.  Over the next week or so, I prayed, I meditated, and I visualized (our embryos implanting, the babies growing inside me, being pregnant, holding our babies).  I spoke to our babies in my tummy.  I looked at my vision board and said positive mantras.  I ate the right foods and avoided the wrong ones.  I did gentle walking and avoided strenuous activity or lifting anything heavy.  And I laughed as much as possible!  Occasionally my mind would wander and worry, searching for signs or pregnancy, or lack thereof.  But I tried to let go of the anxiousness and just focus on the now.  Overall, I felt a sense of calm and relaxation in my body and mind.  I did everything I could.  Even though I knew on most levels, it was really out of my hands.

After my blood draw I left the clinic.  It would be several hours now until we got the results.  I opened the door of my warm car and sank into the leather seats, to find a lovely text waiting from Jeff.  He was letting me know he loved me and it would be ok whatever happened.  I thought back to the day before at church, when he had whispered similar sweet sentiments in my ear in prayer, as the choir sang about using God’s strength to support us on our journeys.  We held hands in the pews and the tears flowed down my cheeks at the beauty and comfort of both of those things.

As I drove to meet Jeff I thought about our conversation concerning with whom and how we would share our good news.  First, we would tell our parents and siblings, (we could even go to Jeff’s sister’s house and make the announcement in person, as she lives locally – that would be so fun and joyful).  Then we would tell our remaining grandparent, Jeff’s grandma Marge.  We could not wait to do that, she is 94 and had joked with us that she is sticking around to meet our children.  Then we would share our wonderful news with our aunts, uncles, cousins, and close friends.  So many people are supporting us on this journey; it would be hard to wait until the often-customary 12 weeks before telling anyone.  Our loved ones were anxious and excited for the news too and to share our joy.

Jeff and I ate a quick lunch and drove to a local park to make the phone call to our clinic for the results.  We sat on an empty bench; I put my phone on speaker and called our nurse’s direct line.  It rang and rang, the loud noise filling the relative silence and stillness of the park, our hearts beating anxiously.  It went to voicemail.  My nervousness increased.  We would give her a few moments.  I told her I would call at 1 pm and it was 12:53 pm, we were early (we had eaten our lunch much too fast).  I looked at the large trees lining the pathway opposite us, at the sheer circumference of their giant trunks, their wizened bark, their branches outstretched like arms offering shade from their canopy.  I tried to take some peace from the trees.  We waited the longest 3 minutes of our lives and called again.  This time she picked up on the first ring.  A pause.  She composed herself.  “Guys, I’m…”  And we knew.  Our hearts sank.  We could tell by her tone that the news was not good.  “I’m… so sorry to tell you your test results are negative.”

No, no, no. Our hearts sank. One of our biggest sadnesses was happening again.  This was the third time we had received a phone call like this.  We ended the call.  We were numb.  I felt empty inside – emotionally and physically.  The babies we had been talking to over the last few weeks were not there.  At some point, the pregnancy had failed.  We were devastated and disappointed.  We looked at each other, the sadness on our faces mirroring each other.  I cried.  We told each other it would be all right, that we have each other, that we have our health, that we have so many good things in our lives.  That we would not give up, that we would keep trying.  There would be a way for us to become parents and fulfil our dream.  God has a plan for us.

That evening at home Beyoncé’s song ‘I’m A Survivor’ came into my head.  I sang the words in my head, the lyrics growing louder in my mind.  Then I sang the words aloud.  Then I changed the I’s to We’s, as this journey is about both Jeff and I.  We have both shown incredible strength, resiliency, tenacity, and determination in this journey.  We are in this together and for the long run:

We are survivors
We’re not going to give up
We’re not going to stop
We’re going to work harder
We are survivors
We’re going to make it
We will survive
Keep on surviving

In these sad couple of days following our disappointing news, I have reflected on a lot.  I have reflected on surviving.  Surviving something makes us stronger.  Almost all of my friends have survived something, to varying degrees – illness, divorce, addiction, depression, loss of a loved one, job loss, or like us fertility struggles – at the time, it is so painful to experience.  However, it is during hard times that human beings show some of their most amazing character traits.  Family and friends rally around people surrounding them with love, compassion, hope, and joy.  These are the silver linings amongst the dark clouds.

I reflect on all that I have learned on this fertility journey.  I am so thankful for this.  Had we conceived right away I would never have had the opportunity to learn all I have.  One of the most important things I have learned is to be thankful for all that I have, to be present and look for the good, positive and joy in the now, and in each day.  Rather than worrying about something I do not have or waiting for something to happen to bring me happiness (e.g. a baby, a relationship, a new job, a new house, to retire, etc.)  There is something extremely rewarding and peaceful about being grateful and appreciating what you have now.

I have learned to be more accepting and forgiving.  People often say the darndest things regarding our fertility journey.  I know that they all have good intentions and are trying to comfort us or offer us hope.  So, I let the comments that fall a little short roll off my back.  The most helpful thing we have heard is when people let us know much we are loved.

I continue to be happy for parents-to-be or new parents.  I have still never felt the desire to compare our journey with anyone else’s journey or have the ‘why them and not me’ mentality.  I feel genuine joy for each prospective or new parents I see or meet.  I sometimes hear pregnant women complain about their pregnancy symptoms, and I think about how I would give anything to be pregnant and readily deal with the weight gain, swollen ankles, food aversions, nausea, just to know I have a baby growing inside me.  But even if I let brief frustration seep in to me, I quickly let it go.  I am happy for, and encourage people to express their human experiences, I am interested in them, and I do not expect people to filter them for me.

Above all, this long fertility journey has taught me patience, faith, and the love of my husband.  It has taught me how strong we are, both individually, but more importantly as a team…and what a great team we are!  As we go on a bike ride the early evening of our sad news, the high warm summer sun beating down on us, and as we push hard up a hill, strong and healthy, side-by-side, I smile and breathe, and know that everything will be alright.

Lydia

p.s
Next Steps…
Jeff and I have two more embryos frozen from February 2016 (classified ‘good’ quality).  We plan to do another frozen embryo transfer (FET) as soon as possible.  We hope that this next, 4th, cycle of IVF will be our time.  There are likely unknown/unexplained infertility factors at play for us.  But our doctor has suggested it is often just a numbers game with IVF.  Several studies have shown that overall, about 50% of human preimplantation embryos from IVF are chromosomally abnormal.  So, while some couples are fortunate enough for IVF to work the first time, others it might take two, three, four or more attempts to work.  We could also do further egg retrievals if we need too.  (One of the hardest things for us is just time/age.  Even if we can deal with the rollercoaster that is this fertility journey, we just want this to happen for us before it is too late. There is likely a little longer for us to try through IVF or naturally.  We know there are many options though).  We feel secure in the knowledge that we will be parents!  We are strong!  We are not giving up!

Why Share?
Friends and family have been overwhelming supportive of my blog.  Some people may wonder why I would share something so personal.  There are several reasons.  I find it incredibly therapeutic to write.  It allows me to freely express my emotions.  It helps me to connect with people, and to share our story with our loves ones, and those for whom it might be helpful or comforting to hear.  I have an amazingly supportive husband, who knows and encourages my love of writing.  But mainly I write because we are not alone in our struggle.  People struggle and survive through so many hurdles in life.  Writing helps us share the joys and sorrows, the richness, that is human life.  With regards to fertility in particular, sadly there are so many couples around the world feeling our same heartbreak.  There is still somewhat of a taboo surrounding the topic of infertility.  Couples facing it can sometimes feel alone, shunned, and judged.  I want to shed a little light on the topic.  To normalize it.  To help others know they are loved and not alone.

Previous posts on fertility:

Nov 2013 – Our Journey to Parenthood
Nov 2015 – We Are Ready For You
Nov 2015 – Thankful for those little things …

Mother and baby deer in our back gardenIMG_0240
IVF Attempt 3!Fertility photos June 20161
Trying a ‘baby-bump’ photo after the embryos were transferred20160619_143108
Wildflowers on a walk
I felt good most of the waiting period, but when anxious thoughts came into my mind, I did my best to be in the present and notice the beauty around me.Neighborhood wildflowers
Feeling Grateful
Jeff and I feel so fortunate for all we have, and the fun travel and adventures we do. But it doesn’t fill the space in our hearts for the children we desire so much. We cannot wait to be parents.Screen Captures3
We Are Survivors
The early evening of our sad news. But feeling strong after our bike ride together in the sun. We Are Survivors!
Bike Ride 2

 

Thankful for those little things….

I had a tough day yesterday.  It overwhelmed me and I got angry and frustrated. The disappointment came when we learned in an email from our fertility center that they have cancelled our third round of IVF.  They said we are going to have to delay it for at least two to four months, due to complications from an estrogen imbalance they have found that I have.

In some ways, I am not surprised my body is imbalanced with all of the drugs I have had to put into it over the last few years. I will need to be on progesterone and a birth control for several months to rebalance things. (I cannot tell you how hard it is to have to go on birth control in the middle of trying to conceive – having to swallow pills that stop the very thing we want most.)

I had been preparing for our next round of IVF. I re-read all of my fertility books and two files worth of fertility notes. I re-stocked our cupboards with foods and supplements that help, all of the weird and wonderful things – acai berries, goji berries, beet juice, queen bee pollen, maca powder. Like almost every month, I counted forward in my head nine months to see when we would give birth to the baby we conceived this month. An August baby – visions of sunny walks pushing our newborn in a pram. Now, we will need to wait until at least February or March to try again, bringing me closer to another birthday without being a mum. Birthdays can be hard when going through this.

Yesterday I cried so much my eyes became filled with feathery red vessels and I gave myself a headache from all of the tears. This is all so confusing and disappointing. My husband, Jeff, is great. He came home from work and held me in a big bear hug. We know it is going to be ok. It is just another hurdle in our path, another wave to ride up and down, a few more months in the grand scheme of things. I went to bed sad but trying to appreciate the little things. We had our Christmas lights installed along the eaves of our roof yesterday and we added three trees strung with small golden bulbs this year too. They looked so beautiful twinkling like little stars in the inky blackness outside. That made me smile.

*deep breath*

Today is a new day and I woke up with gratitude on my mind.  When I feel struggle, pain, sadness, or disappointment in my life – as we all invariably do at certain points – I have discovered some things that help me out.  Physically, I find that fresh air and exercise are some of the best remedies.  Stepping outside to feel the warm sun on my face or brisk wind on my cheek. Getting my heart-rate up, the blood pumping around my body and endorphins rushing. These things naturally improve my frame of mind.

I find consciously working on my mental state helps too.  One way to do this is to look for gratitude and things to be thankful for each day.  Starting by getting out of bed and saying “I am so grateful for this new day.”  Then noticing and feeling thankful for the little things that make us smile throughout the day- my soft robe, my warm drink, the birds chirping outside, a flower opening its petals, the person helping to pack my bags at the grocery store or letting me out at a junction – things in nature and human interactions. Being conscious of life’s small pleasures makes us feel good.

I jumped out of bed and was thankful for all the opportunities this new day holds. I enjoyed a great breakfast of eggs, muffins, and avocado with my husband. The sun was shining. I threw on my new blue down skirt and went outside.  I instantly felt better – the outdoors, nature, God. I put on a backpack and decided to walk the 5.5 miles that would take me there and back to the grocery store, to pick up my Thanksgiving meal ingredients. An errand, exercise, and some vitamin D – all covered. A storm was due in this afternoon, but right now the sun was shining and the outdoors beckoning.

I smiled as I walked along – at the sun, at the view, at the tall grasses golden in the sun’s rays; I ran my hands through them. I stood tall, I breathed, and I gave thanks. I am so fortunate for so many things. This is going to be ok. I strode on. I came across shards of a broken brown bottle on the path and smiled as I swept it away with my foot, piece by piece, so as not to cause anyone a flat bike tire – a good deed. I strode on. I laughed as a truck went by and honked its horn and two guys waved (my new skirt)! I smiled as I saw my friends at the grocery store. I smiled as I passed fellow walkers and bikers. I smiled as I marveled at the icy white crystallized layer on the partly frozen river, the water lapping underneath as it moved forwards on its journey, determined. I felt the sun on my skin, smiled, and strode on.

The way back was harder. I was starting to question my decision to walk so many miles and carry 14lbs of groceries on my back. The pumpkin seemed to be getting heavier and heavier with each step. My leg muscles were feeling the strain. I wondered whether a bus was coming past soon or a kindly neighbor might stop and offer me a ride home. However, I had my mind set on this journey and I was going to see it through. I can do it.

I thought of a recent book I read, Cheryl Strayed’s ‘Wild’ and her journey to hike the Pacific Crest trail. I thought about how hard it would be to hike all of those miles. Then I thought of the strenuous 4-day, 60-mile hike I did as a teenager with friends in the Welsh mountains, as part of our Gold Duke of Edinburgh award. I thought of it hailing sideways on us, of us toppling about with our huge backpacks carrying all of our supplies and camping gear, of us sliding on wet rocks, as our hands and feet tried to grip their mossy surface. At times during that epic hike, I had wanted to quit, but I did not. I did not stop then and I would not stop now.

I thought of seeing an acquaintance, Jim Harris, on the news last evening, of how he is making a recovery from a ski accident last year that paralyzed him from the waist down, of how he is learning to walk again, one foot in front of the other, of his perseverance and determination. I placed one foot in front of the other and thought of him. I thought of that tough year I had teaching in an inner-city school in London, of the stress and strain, of the late nights planning in the dark of my classroom, my only company the sounds of the cleaner’s vacuum. Of getting home and needing to continue working, of waking up and doing it all over again, of it making me poorly and run down, and how it nearly broke me. I persevered. I overcame. I showed resilience. I thought of how, in hindsight, these struggles were preparing me for this fertility journey.

I thought of a poem I was read by a friend earlier this year, ‘Learning How to Float’ in The Book of Awakening, by Mark Nepo. It describes someone learning how to swim and struggling in the water, arms and legs frantically straining and flapping.  It teaches us that struggling is exhausting and when we stop struggling, we float. It is a beautiful poem, read it here. I picture myself on this fertility journey struggling amidst it all – all the yearning, trying, appointments, procedures, injections, information. The energy and effort it all takes. I see myself flapping and fighting in the deep end of the pool. Then I realize I do not need to struggle. I breathe. I need to let my inner strength and peace, and the love and support of my family, friends, and God, support and uphold me. The poem shares “The essence of trust is believing you will be held up if you let go.” I need to stop struggling. I picture myself calm and afloat in the water. The poem seems applicable to so many of our human struggles.

As I walked on, I adjusted the weight in my backpack, stretched my shoulders back, and took a deep breath. I realized my thoughts had moved on from overcoming my short hike and heavy load, to thoughts of how I overcame the bigger hurdles in my life thus far. And how being thankful for the little things – our Christmas lights, a walk, a blue skirt – had helped me be thankful for the big things. To be thankful for my health, being able to exercise, the place I live, the beauty that surrounds me, of not having a stressful job, and having the freedom and flexibility to volunteer and help our community, to write, and photograph, while also doing the things I need to do on our fertility journey.

I thought of the quote from my last post about the arrow, and realized it is just being pulled back a little further, before propelling me forward into new, great things. I realized when things are getting us down we need to stop struggling, we need to relax, calm, and trust.  We need to be thankful for the little things, let them make us smile, put one foot in from of the other, and carry on.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Lydia

Christmas lights

I am thankful for the pretty christmas lights that guide me home.

Little blue skirt

Thinking thankful thoughts today on my hike. I am thankful for my health and ability to exercise, the beautiful place in which we live, and my little blue skirt :)

Thinking thankful thoughts

I am thankful for the sunshine and views.

Thinking thankful thoughts

I am thankful I made it home before the storm came in.