As the post I wrote for the NYT Motherlode Blog continues to accumulate a variety of comments, it’s made me think about how all this ART…stuff might be understood or misunderstood to people who don’t have any experience with desperately wanting a family and not being able to create one.
Someone commented on a former post that a lot of what happens on IF Island might seem “weird” at first or to outsiders. And I don’t disagree with that. I’ve just been dealing with this, living with this, for long enough that “weird” has transformed into “beautiful.” Not because I’m delusional, not because I’m fooling myself, but because I’ve had a profound four-year experience that allowed me to open my mind and my heart and re-conceptualize all previous thoughts and assumptions about how babies are made and how families are created. I have had that…opportunity, but many people have not. I wish those people could just try to be open and understanding, but sometimes they just can’t. That’s too bad. But I do admit that I was not always this…enlightened ;)
When we were first told IVF was our only shot to make a baby, I was horrified. The idea of injecting hormones into my body to create an unnatural amount of eggs made my stomach turn. I’ve always been more of a natural healing kind of gal and I am (was) terrified of needles. The idea of making a “test tube baby” was upsetting and scary and freaked me out. But the science behind it was also amazing, and if this was what we were being told was our way to a family, then the pros outweighed the cons for us. Going through IVF was mind blowing. It was painful and somehow exciting, and I started meeting more people who created babies in different ways. I met wonderful families that used various alternative family building options from surrogacy to egg donation to adoption, and suddenly the “weird” way Noah and I were having to make a baby simply became different and then interesting.
After our first IVF cycle ended in disaster I was broken, but also curious. Curious about where our baby was going to come from. I realized Noah and I were going to really have to think outside the box. When my sister offered her eggs, I was ecstatic but also weirded out a little. Were my husband and my sister really going to make a baby?? That I would carry? What did it all mean? The initial bizarreness of the situation quickly morphed into different, then interesting, then completely and utterly amazing. Amazing that my sister would do this for us, potentially give us the gift of a family (I think for the holidays that year I gave her a $100 gift card to Anthropologie). It was amazing that we have doctors and the technology to do this. It would be amazing that our child would know how badly he/she was wanted not just by mommy and daddy, but by other people, especially Auntie. The only thing that wasn’t amazing was that it didn’t work.
But perhaps I had to live through it to fully understand it. Perhaps I had to feel the intense desire for a child and the despair and heartbreak of unsuccessful attempts at creating that child. Perhaps I had to think about it and wrap my head around it and accept it and embrace it. By the time it came to deciding to try embryo donation, nothing seemed strange to me. Only beautiful. That I could possibly create a life that was sitting in a freezer for years, that might have been sitting there for eternity if our paths didn’t cross–come on, that’s incredible! That anonymous strangers would allow me the opportunity to be a mother–what a gift! That I live in a time and a country that allows this– it’s all amazing and beautiful.
I understand that the unknown and different can be weird and strange, but I also know it can be amazing. It just depends on how you choose to perceive.
Culled from http://dontcountyoureggs.typepad.com/blog/failed-ivf/