Two years ago I wrote about ‘Our Journey to Parenthood‘. Now two years later, and four years of trying to conceive, our journey continues. It is a journey of highs and lows, and incredible insights. I believe sharing our raw emotions and lessons we’ve learned is how we connect as humans. It can be hard to stay strong and positive in our faith and relationships during these challenges, but through love and support we can. These are my latest thoughts on our journey….
To Our Dearest Child,
There is scarcely a day in recent past where I have not thought of you – your long eyelashes resting angelically on your cheeks as you sleep, the movement of your lips gently suckling as you think of your next feed, the soft downy hair on your head catching the sunlight, the tiny pads of your fingers and toes. Your image is in my mind and heart, a constant companion and reminder you are not yet with us. Some days the void is more apparent. We dearly want you here – to hear the sweet sound of a child within our home, to feel you in our arms – to fill us with your presence. We are ready for you.
Why are you not yet here? Is there something more we can do? You are in our thoughts and decisions. We anticipate you being here. A small smile spreads on my face as my eyes scan our living room. We chose our furniture with you in mind, our side and coffee tables with rounded edges, “So, when we have a child they won’t hurt themselves on sharp corners” we told the salesperson. I look out of the window and see the area we leveled for a swing set, just as we did in our last house. I worry about the tree blocking my view to keep an eye on you and check you are safe as you play, but I imagine I will be outside playing with you much of the time. I raise my eyes to our second floor and see your bedroom door. We have painted your room for you and had the carpet repaired. We received a crib that our niece and nephews used, and your Dad and I built it together last year. “Build it and they will come!” your Dad always says. We are ready for you.
Is there a lesson we must learn before you arrive? Your Dad and I have learned so much over the last few years. It was hard when we were first married – each of us adjusting to putting the other person before ourselves, being thoughtful, communicating clearly, and making decisions as a team. We are both stubborn and headstrong. There was anger and tears at times, but there is also so much fun and joy. Oh, how your Dad makes me laugh – his smile, his energy and enthusiasm. We have come such a long way and grown so much. We are a better team now. We appreciate each other more. We have a deeper love and respect for each other. I am thankful we have had this time to learn and grow before you arrived. There will be more learning and growing to do, I know, but we are ready for you.
The last four years have been an unforgettable journey. The day we decided we wanted to bring you into the world, and all that has passed since. I picture your Dad and I on a boat, riding the waves of hope and disappointment, up and down, joy and pain. Sometimes your Dad is the captain and sometimes I am, taking it in turns to row or bail out water, keeping us afloat. We see our destination. We move towards it. We are ready for you.
This is not a journey of sadness though. We have so much to be grateful for and have experienced great joy on the way. We must remember this. So often it can feel like we are in limbo, waiting for something to happen, waiting for you to arrive. I used to cringe when people told me several years into our fertility journey, “Enjoy life while you can, before you have children” – thinking they had no idea how we felt. Now I realize we must enjoy life now, we must remember to be in the present, not in a constant state of waiting. I look around me and my heart is glad. We are so fortunate. Our lives are rich with the blessings of amazing family and friends, of travel and adventure, of professional and personal success and fulfilment. I look out the window at the beauty that surrounds me, of all that God has given us, and I am so very grateful. We appreciate each day and each blessing. But, as I bring my attention back inside I notice once more you are not here to enjoy life with us. We are ready for you.
Life without children can be hard (as it surely is with them – I have no disillusions of that). Our society often seems designed for families. It is expected of us. We tend to define a female in her role as a wife and mother, for women who choose not to bear children, or those of us who struggle with it, that brings immense pressure and judgement. Childless couples can be met with surprise and suspicion. We feel the need to explain ourselves. There is upset and shame involved in not being able to deliver a baby. You can feel responsible, even though there is nothing you have done or can do to change it. Your Dad and I are so thankful for the overwhelming support we have had – the wonderful family and friends who have sustained us on this journey. They make a great effort to include us in activities, even if we are the only ones without a baby strapped to us on a hike or without a toddler at the park. They identify with us in other ways, as they did before. Sweet child, you are lucky to have the best support network of children and adults, who are all ready to love you, as they do us. We are ready for you.
Our family, friends, and God have kept us strong during our fertility treatments over the last two years – four IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) procedures in 2014 and two IVFs (In Vitro Fertilization) in 2015. We focus on the power of prayer and positive thinking through these. Your Dad was, and continues to be, the best husband throughout. He will be an amazing Dad too. I cannot wait to be a family with the two of you. During IVFs we had to drive to the clinic nearly every day for ultrasounds and blood tests. We did injections each night too. I found it almost impossible to stick a needle in myself, especially the 1.5” ones. Luckily, your Dad did them for me. He is very caring and patient towards me; he held my hand, rubbed my injection sites in small circles, spoke in soft whispers, encouraged me, and calmed me. At the appointments, we monitored the follicles growing, hoping that one of them would contain you. We are ready for you.
When they retrieved the eggs for IVF, I went under general anesthetic. They retrieved fourteen the first time and nine the second. The doctor told us we make excellent quality embryos so we are very hopeful. Both times after several days, they implanted two embryos. I was awake for this. We watched the process on a screen. I could not stop smiling and exclaiming my amazement to see the embryos transferred, dancing their way up the catheter where they would be placed in my womb, their new home. Throughout this journey, we are increasingly awed by the miracle that is conception and life, and bringing you into this world. The embryologist gave us photos of the beautiful perfect little cells. We prayed every day for them to take and implant or “Throw down their anchor!” as your Dad said fondly. We had hoped they would become you. We are ready for you.
We prayed about and visualized the embryos strong and healthy. I pictured myself with you, a baby, in my womb, growing each month, imagining myself looking in the mirror at my rounded figured and smiling. I pictured holding you in my arms. I created a vision board, I sketched myself with two babies, our two embryos, and I said positive statements every day. We were calm and optimistic. I imagined all of my loved ones sitting in a circle alongside us, smiling, supporting us. We are ready for you.
I was so sure that we had conceived you, that when people who knew we were in the process of IVF would say, “If it doesn’t happen this time, it will be ok, it will happen next time.” I would get angry. I did not want that to enter my psyche. I did not want to consider any possibility except that you were already growing in my womb. It upset me. However, unbeknownst to me at the time, I needed to hear their words, as sadly these two attempts at IVF did not work. We were devastated. It was worse than failing to conceive on regular cycles, as we were more physically, spiritually, and emotionally involved than ever. I told your Dad that I knew we both had a great inner strength, and that tenacity and perseverance were strong character traits of us both, but why were they being tested? It seemed unfair. We felt that this process had brought us so close to each other and that we had learned to support and balance each other better than ever. We had more to learn, but we are nearly there. We are ready for you.
If we could bring you into this world through trying, you would be with us already. In other areas of life when there is a goal you are after you can control it somewhat, through energy and effort to succeed. We have tried so hard, but bringing you into this world is not an area in which we have power. I get confused sometimes about how much is in our hands and how much is in God’s. Many people believe it is all in God’s timing and control. There is also the idea that God wants us to work at things too and not just wait for things to happen. We will continue to do what we can, and continue to learn the power of patience, trust, and prayer. Waiting is part of the process of what God wants us to be. We feel we are getting closer. We are ready for you.
We are getting ready to start our third IVF treatment at the end of the month, unless by some miracle we have conceived this month. We are optimistic and hopeful it will happen, and we will bring you into this world. We both dearly want to be parents. We have learned so much on this journey. We have learned to enjoy and be grateful for where we are at in our lives, without feeling in a state of waiting. Your Dad and I have learned to love, appreciate, support, and respect each other in new ways. We have gained a greater appreciation of God, and our family and friends, whose love and support upholds us on this journey. We have learned to be patient, trust, and have faith. We know when you enter our lives you will teach us new lessons too. We cannot wait to meet you our darling child. We are ready for you.
Your loving Mum