This is where I'll start this story... it's 2018 and I have a long way to go.
I've never been one to sit back and take a struggle quietly. I'm not sure what it is in my nature that constantly propels me forward. I can't say that I've had a more challenging life than anyone else, we all have our share of challenges to deal with...I've just never taken any of mine sitting down. I took for granted over the years that I had had a pretty easy time producing 4 amazing human beings. That's not to say I took THEM for granted, just the process. I'm healthy, that's not an accident, I work hard for it...but I always thought my health held the promise of anything I wanted. And then in my 40's, I got remarried after having been a single mom for 12 years and my new husband and I wanted a baby together. I'll share a little wisdom here: trying to conceive after 40 is not for the faint of heart. It was a rollercoaster. Not the fun kind at an ammusement park where everyone is smiling and squealing with their arms in the air and their hair blown back for the pictures...but the kind in the horror house with the creepy clowns freaking you out and leaving you shaken and the rickety rails that make you wonder if the car will fall off the side on one of the sharp curves and send you plummeting into a dank hell to certain death...I'm sure you get the idea...
The intention of this blog is twofold: First, to tell our story, it deserves to be told for the sake of our own healing. I'll spare the suspense- our story does not have the "after all this struggle we finally got a baby" ending...there's no baby...at this point there's only a thread of a marriage left...but we're two people who went through something very real and very difficult together and I'm pretty sure there are plenty of others out there who can relate. The other intention is to provide an opportunity for those who wish to follow me as I run across the country to reach out to other women who have suffered miscarriages and try to offer them some hope.
So the fairy tale started in the spring of 2013. We fell in love and decided to have a baby and get married...in that order...we found out the day before our wedding that I was in fact pregnant and for a minute I gloated a little. I felt like a badass defying all those silly statistcs on the internet about how slim the chances are of women conceiving in their 40's-- I had just conceived on the first try at 42 years old- I was the shit! It was all sunshine and happiness until suddenly it wasn't. We were approaching that magical 12 week mark when Fall Equinox rolled around and we announced our news excitedly to all of our friends at our Equinox party...and then later that night after the guests left, I started bleeding. My midwife came in the middle of the night and sat by my bed and tried repeatedly to find a heartbeat, but I knew in my gut it was over. The next days were a nightmare that I spent enough time in grief counseling to know that I don't want to traumatize anyone else to the degree I was by retelling it all...and then those who hadn't made it to the Equinox party starting hearing the good news from those who were there, so as I laid in bed recovering from my loss I received countless well-meant congratulatory texts and messages online about our exciting news...the nightmare seemed to not want to end.
We recovered, got back in the proverbial saddle and tried again...and succeeded again...until once again, we failed...this cycle of conceive, miscarry, repeat seemed to become a theme in our young relationship. We thought we were doing ok and we were going to tough it out and eventually there would be a baby and it would all be worth it. And then after 3 years of this pattern and a drawer full of positive pee sticks with no baby to show for it, we decided to go another route...we adopted embryos. This is a pretty foreign concept to most, so I'll explain. When a couple signs up for in-vitro they go through the process of creating embryos in a petrie dish. Those embryos get frozen and stored in a deep freezer and the couple then goes through the process of the female taking drugs to prepare her body for the embryos to be placed in her uterus...not "implanted", but placed-- it's up to the embryos to decide if they will implant or just pass through with the next cycle. When they're ready, some of the embryos get thawed. There's a chance that one or two in a batch might not survive in the thaw, so usually they thaw one or two more than you plan on transferring. If they all survive, they refreeze the extra. Science is amazing. So then lets say a couple transfers two of those little guys and they both implant and they have twins and feel their family is complete...they have to decide what to do with those other little "snowflakes" they've got sitting on ice. This is where to adoption comes in. The actual creation of the embryos is the really expensive part, so adopting donated embryos leaves a couple with only the transfer fee, which is about $20K less than creating your embryos. So we adopted 6 little embryos that were hanging out at a clinic down in Florida. I was ecstatic. Matt needed convincing, but in the end warmed up to the idea. He initially had concerns about connecting with a child that didn't share his DNA. But the mother was in her 20's and her eggs were far younger and more viable than mine and all I wanted for us to raise a child together. So we did it. Months of preparing and testing... because of my age I had to prove I was healthy enough to carry a child so I endured all kinds of invasive procedures and even ran uphill a couple miles on a treadmill for a stress test (I was determined to win that one) and after weeks of craziness on hormones and daily injections, it was finally time for our transfer. Matt didn't go, I flew to Florida and stayed with a friend and on the monring of the transfer the clinic called to me know that all 6 of my sweet little embryos had died in the thawing process. It was like the pain of a miscarriage all over again...times 6. All the hopes and dreams I had for those little babies and our family were gone just like that. And because I'm clearly a glutton for pain... a few months later we started the whole process all over again. And again it failed. We transferred 2 grade A embryos in October of 2016 and by November I was heartbroken again. Matt encouraged me to move on...said we could be a family without having a baby and that just the two of us was enough. We had my kids, my grandkids, our dogs, each other...it was going to be enough. On my 46th birthday that December I finally conceded and agreed we needed to move on.
2017 loomed ahead like a clean slate with a ton of possibilites. I was depressed. Directionless. Totally lost. Sad. So I started running. I cried while I ran. I hired a personal trainer. I cried to him 3 days a week while working out. All of it felt horrible, but I kept going. Everyone around me was announcing that they were pregnant. I was heartbroken. And then by spring something was happening. I was running alot, I was geting stronger than I had ever been. I was having glimpses of feeling like my old self was coming back and I was starting to smile on my long runs more than often than I was crying. I started laughing with my trainer while working out. I was finding joy in something that really only served me...I was doing something for myself and realizing how lost and consumed I had been with the whole baby-making process. I had an epiphany in late spring...I didn't want a baby anymore and I wanted to help other women who had been struggling down this weary road. I had thought all along that the only thing that would take away all the pain and make it better was a baby. That I could endure anything because there would be a baby at the end of the struggle. So to stop trying and know there would be no baby left me totally lost and confused and feeling like I had wasted those years with nothing to show for all of the pain and anguish. I learned a hard lesson and now I'm going to run across the country and share it and hopefully give some comfort to others who know this pain.