part 4…the end.
this is the part in this crazy story where i should be able to start out this post with these words:
‘with every great story comes a happy ending and in the end it was all worth it because we are pregnant!’
this is not that story and that is not our ending. we are not pregnant.
every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. – semisonic
in the years since our story begun, we have come a long way – we still have a long way to go, but we are on the right path.
before our “break,” in my last conversation with dr. w, he said that if we wanted to come back to him he would recommend ivf but that he didn’t feel that would even help. he told me in his no sugar coating fashion that the medicines would be tougher and considering what i went through the past few months, i could and should expect the worst when it came to the side effects. as reassuring as that was, we talked about it. we really did. we dissected our thoughts and actions, we looked at the positive and negative, and we prayed. at the end of the day, we decided to wait. we didn’t really want to do ivf at that time since the percentage of success would be so low. and, we wanted to give ourselves extended time to heal before we tried any more iui’s, so we waited.
in our waiting, we were faced with new challenges. challenges of dealing with, and learning to live with, infertility. one of those challenges was being able to respond to people when they ask why we weren’t pregnant and asking if we just didn’t want kids. it takes time to respond to those people because with each question it rushes me through all of the stages of grief. when i get back to the acceptance stage, i don’t know how to answer. i don’t want to make the person feel bad because they didn’t know, but all i can really do now is give a sad smile and shrug. sometimes when people complain about their children or their pregnancies, all i can do is breath and relive the pain.
**i am not saying now, or ever, that 1. i would have been a great mom that didn’t complain. i might have, but having been through all of this, if i could have gotten pregnant i would have embraced the bad and horrible because for me it would have been a victory. it would have been better than being in the state that i am in right now. 2. That people can’t complain. everyone has a right to be miserable in their own situations and i get that. sometimes it is hard for me or other people going through infertility to grasp what people are saying because we are stuck in the mentality of “if only i had that problem.” 3. that other people can’t share their happiness with people going through infertility or that we expect people to only be sad around us and not share their good news and their joys. it isn’t that we aren’t capable of being happy for anyone, because often times we are. but with everyone else’s happiness inside us, there is still that sting of heartache. that with everyone else’s happiness, even though we are genuinely happy, there is still a place in our heart that breaks. and i am not sure that there is anything that will make that go away.**
each month that passed, a little bit of sadness enters in, but it eventually leaves. most of the time that we have been taking a break has been uneventful. i have had some more cysts rupture (but nothing that sent me back to the hospital) and i have had some lingering effects of the treatments (mental and physical). i am telling you, my hair used to be so sleek and shiny instead of the afro fuzz ball that it is now.
in april of 2013, i found myself having some issues. i started bleeding and wouldn’t stop. i called my doctor and told him i was annoyed and to fix it. he prescribed something and told me to call in 3 days. i did and he said “did it stop?” i said “no, what else is there?” he gave me another medicine and told me to call a week later. i called and he said “did it stop now?” i said “no and if it doesn’t stop soon i am going to go insane.” he told me he would call me back. he wanted to check into something. a few hours later, his nurse called and told me that he wanted me to have an ultrasound (still not a fun one) and to come see him in the office. this has become a new way of life – just do what we are told when it pertains to my “mickey mouse.” i went to the ultra sound and the tech asked me if i was familiar with the “type of ultrasound we were doing that morning.” i laughed at her and said yes. i am sure that she didn’t get the joke but i giggled. if only she knew where this all started. i had the ultrasound and when i asked what she was looking for, she wouldn’t tell me. i asked her if it looked ok and she said, “the doctor has to go over it with you.” i will admit, i wasn’t overly concerned because i have been here before. after the ultrasound, we had several hours to kill because my appt with him wasn’t until that afternoon. we went and had breakfast. we went shopping and i got to go to target – i love target! we killed time and i went to my appt. andy went in with me, but opted to stay in the waiting room. when they called me back, i went into the room and the doctor walked in. he sat down and pulled up the ultrasound so that we could look at it together. he showed me that my ovaries were fine (not in the ‘you can have a baby’ fine, but in the, fine for alison’s screwed up ovaries).
he then went on to show me my uterus. he said, “ok, do you see this?” and showed me something gray and white on the screen (let’s be honest, everything on those screens is white and some shade of gray – but i digress). he told me it was the lining of my uterus. oh – i don’t know why i didn’t recognize it because years before, i got to see it each month four or five times a month. he told me that the lining was a great thickness and he was glad to see that. i looked at him as he continued. he stated, “i was worried that since you were bleeding so bad and since you didn’t stop with those medicines that you had cancer.” i nodded. “oh ok – wait WHAT?” he told me that because my ovaries don’t work right that i am at an increased risk for cancer (which dr. w did mention to me at our initial consultation). he said that when i was talking to him on the phone that he had a bad feeling about it and wanted me to have the ultrasound and come in to talk to him about it. he stated that he was concerned that he would see a very thick lining and if he did, he would want to do a d&c to clear it out and do biopsies to diagnose. he was certain now that i was fine and that for some reason unknown to him and to myself, i just had a lot to bleed the past month and a half. he offered to do a biopsy if it would calm my nerves and put my mind at peace. i said, “um, yes please.”
he got his nurse and told her that we were going to proceed. then he told me how he was going to do it and that he was going to get several samples. he told me it was going to be a bit uncomfortable. i remember hearing this when i had the xray and when they did the actual iui procedure, so i said ok – thinking that this would be the same. i was on the table and he said, “here we go.” all i have to say is: uncomfortable, my ass – it hurt like hell! he did the first biopsy and i almost climbed over the top of the table. i was mad. i may or may not have said a choice word and told him through clenched teeth before he took the second one that he needed to revisit his definition of uncomfortable. he moved a little faster and at the end of it he asked if i was ok. i said i was, but i wasn’t happy with him. all in all, i was glad that he had the forethought to be worried even when i hadn’t been. i had labs drawn that day as well and those were a piece of cake – since i am an expert now!
time passed and the results came back. i was fine – cancer free and, for the time being, worry free. he counseled me on what to look for in the future and when i needed to come in for more tests or biopsies (which i told him i didn’t think i would ever do again). that biopsy was something that you can do once because you don’t know, but once you know that pain you wouldn’t volunteer for it again – ever.
at any given moment you have the power to say this is not how the story is going to end. – christine mason miller
In our story, we will always be labeled as an infertile couple (if not by other people – by ourselves). we will always be a part of that club even if we didn’t ask to be. we will always wonder what could have been. but we decided that our story is not going to end how so many do. we were going to stay together and love each other. we would not let this rip our relationship to pieces.
something that i haven’t talked about that much is andy. yes he is sprinkled here and there in the story, but i haven’t really focused much on him. through all of this, he was my rock and my sanity. he was my punching bag (verbally) and the recipient of my anger and lashing out. he was my voice of reason when i went on an irrational rant. he was the calm to my raging storm. if I was having a bad day, his look of understanding and compassion and a smile of “bring it on, i can take it” was all i needed to see that there was a light at the end of this. in his eyes, i could see, and still see, the promise that he made me – that i was his forever.
there are days that i still question if he will wish he walked away when he had the chance. there are days i wonder if he will ever resent staying married to me because of all of this. there are days where i feel so insecure that no matter what he says i believe that he will hate me. but then there are the rest of the days. the rest of the days that have built our relationship. the days where we were in the midst of our darkest time together – in the midst of anguish and despair that a lot of couples don’t experience together. it wasn’t like there was one sided, earth shattering grief for one of us where the other was there to hold you up. it was earth shattering grief for both of us. we had to hold each other up and keep from falling in the process. we were fully invested in the good days, where we hoped and dreamed of having a family. and we were fully there in the dark days when it seemed like a black cloud was flying over us raining down despair. our story, as horrible as it was, gave us a foundation stronger than we ever thought was possible.
because of the lack of spontaneity and intimacy that comes with fertility treatments, we have spent the last few years re-falling, deeper and deeper in love. we have found tremendous joy in doing even the simplest things together because, through all of this, we have realized that we don’t need to take things for granted. we run our errands together. we make a game of giving ourselves challenges (find the most random gift for someone or something we can restore) and go to thrift stores to try to fulfill those challenges. we are more intentional about having date nights (something that we didn’t really do before we realized we had infertility problems). we find simple pleasures in random mini road trips, looking for hidden treasures in the world. i knew that i loved andy a long time before we even started dating and i knew i loved him when he asked me out. there was no question in my mind that i was head over heels in love with him when he asked me to marry him and on the day that we said “i do.” and as cliché as it sounds – the love that we had back then is nothing compared to the love that we have right now.
every great story on the planet happened when someone decided not to give up, but kept going no matter what. – spryte loriano
when we said our vows, i believed that ‘for better or worse’ would come with old age – dealing with ailments and sickness. i never imagined that it would creep in so early in our marriage. i can honestly say that andy has been there through the best of times and the worst. he has seen me at my best and at my very worst.
our story, as imperfect and unwanted as it is, has been our greatest love story.
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. – victor hugo
i feel God again. that doesn’t mean that i understand everything that he is doing in my life. i still don’t understand why he put the desire for children in my heart if he knew that i would never be able to get pregnant. it doesn’t mean that i agree with everywhere he has led me. it doesn’t mean that i don’t still get angry with him and ask him why. especially when i see a new mom with a 4 week old baby and the mom admits she did heroin 3 weeks earlier. it doesn’t mean that i have to like what he has done in my life. it doesn’t mean that i am not broken anymore, because i am. it doesn’t mean that the sting isn’t there sometimes. it doesn’t mean that i only have good days now. it doesn’t mean that i have it all together and don’t cry anymore. the important part is, i feel him again. my faith has returned – a little damaged but there.
the youth and their families we worked with in monroe and here in greeneville have helped. family and friends have helped. little glimmers of hope for peace have helped. understanding and compassion from people in and out of our situation have helped.
as weird as it might sound, pancake helped. i was already doing better (most of the time) by the time we moved to tn, but i feel like i have been doing even better when pancake arrived. we loved going to the farm and riding around and hanging out with the animals (even when they didn’t have the time of day for us). it was a scene of calm and peace and we needed that. we would sit and listen to the cows chewing on the grass (which is surprisingly louder than you would think). we would watch jack wander around, ignoring us. we would listen to the river and look at the mountains and ponder why they never looked the same. but when pancake arrived a whole new ballgame began.
i was responsible. ok, i really wasn’t “responsible” for anything other than love and treats because gene fed him and took care of basic needs, but i felt responsible. we uprooted him from his family and took him to a strange place and contained him in the barn for a few weeks. i watched him go from refusing to leave the barn to waiting for me in the barn lot when i took too long. i watched him go from standing as far away from me as possible to running full speed to us when he saw us. pancake. my weird little donkey. i watched his personality develop and with each development, we laughed more and more. everything from his squeaky bray to his obsession of walking behind the other animals with his head on their rump made us laugh and smile. we shared our stories of pancake and his equine friends and we noticed that other people laughed too. it seemed like there is something about an ass that makes people smile (not all people, i am sure, but just go with me here).
we were talking one day about doing some fundraising one day and our ideas became bigger and bigger and we decided we needed to just start a company. we played around with it (one of andy’s wild ideas) and came up with a name and a concept and a business plan. we laughed about it. one day at lunch, andy told me that we had a website. that our fundraising idea was now no longer just an idea. it was real – tangible. within the last little bit, we have a business license and a website. we are business owners. we are starting out small, but our plans are huge. pancake and his equine friends made us happy and helped heal us and if it brings a smile to someone’s face, then we have made a difference.
from the pits of despair to the path of healing, we have turned the story into something we never could have imagined. so sometime tomorrow, november 1, 2014 will be the first day of:
the bossy donkey company
tomorrow will be a new adventure in it’s own right with the launching of our own company.
i know that infertility has robbed me and us of certain rights of passage, and no matter what happens from here on out there are some things that deep down i will always grieve, but it is ok.
our story has lead us here and in the end, our story is just beginning: we are adopting!